Drumbeat: February 4, 2013

Vast Oil Reserve May Now Be Within Reach, and Battle Heats Up

Comprising two-thirds of the United States’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering 1,750 square miles from Southern to Central California, the Monterey Shale could turn California into the nation’s top oil-producing state and yield the kind of riches that far smaller shale oil deposits have showered on North Dakota and Texas.

For decades, oilmen have been unable to extricate the Monterey Shale’s crude because of its complex geological formation, which makes extraction quite expensive. But as the oil industry’s technological advances succeed in unlocking oil from increasingly difficult locations, there is heady talk that California could be in store for a new oil boom.

Brent Crude Slips From Four-Month High Amid Iran Discussions

Brent crude retreated from its highest closing level in more than four months in London as the prospect of renewed talks between western governments and Iran spurred speculation that last week’s gains were excessive.

Futures slipped as much as 0.6 percent, while West Texas Intermediate halted its longest stretch of weekly advances in more than eight years. Iran considers an offer to negotiate directly with the U.S. over its nuclear program a “step forward” and expects to resume meetings with world powers later this month, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said. Brent’s 14- day relative strength index was at 70, a technical level that suggests prices have climbed too quickly.

Fears fade over energy supply shortage

About this time last year, supply fears were propping up crude prices.

A new round of sanctions had stirred Iran into frenzied sabre-rattling, causing concern that it would block the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway passed by the vast majority of oil produced in the Arabian Gulf.

Market anxiety was compounded by uncertainty over how the sanctions aimed at Iran's oil exports would affect the global supply situation: would Saudi Arabia make use of its spare capacity to offset any shortfall?

Saudi, Libyan oil ministers affirm commitment to stable oil market

Dubai (Platts) - Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Naimi and his Libyan counterpart, Abdel Bari al-Arousi, Monday affirmed their commitment to a stable oil market through cooperation on a bilateral level and on the international arena, the official Saudi SPA news agency reported.

"At the start of the meeting, minister Naimi stressed the importance of relations between the two key oil producing countries and noted their desire to bolster their petroleum industry and preserve its independence, in addition to their common commitment of preserving the stability of the international oil market through their membership of some international organizations like OPEC and OAPEC," SPA quoted the Saudi minister as saying.

Goldman Sachs Reduces 2013 Forecast for U.K. Gas Price by 19%

Gas prices at the U.K.’s National Balancing Point will drop this year to 59.7 pence a therm because of lower demand and discounts from pipeline gas suppliers, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) said.

Iran Open to U.S. Offer, Sees Feb. 25 Atomic Talks

Iran considers an offer to negotiate directly with the U.S. over its nuclear program a “step forward” and expects to resume meetings with world powers later this month, the Persian Gulf nation’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

Talks to defuse tension over Iran’s nuclear work will be held in Kazakhstan Feb. 25, Salehi said yesterday at the Munich Security Conference. The U.S. will offer bilateral negotiations if the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is prepared for “serious” discussions, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the day before at the same event.

French tanker believed held by pirates off Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A French-owned Luxembourg-flagged tanker with 17 crew members that went missing off Ivory Coast at the weekend is believed to have been hijacked by Nigerian pirates, the International Maritime Bureau said on Monday.

The IMB, a division of the International Chamber Of Commerce charged with fighting maritime crime, issued a security alert for West Africa's Gulf of Guinea following a spate of violent attacks on vessels in recent days.

Energy Secretary Chu Resigns Leaving Oil Markets in Turmoil

In his letter of resignation from the post of Energy Secretary, Chu characterized his Department as a "Department of Science, a Department of Innovation, and a Department of Nuclear Security." He then goes on to point out the myriad achievements and initiatives during his tenure ranging from BioEnergy Research Centers, Wind and Solar Energy initiatives, nuclear safety, appliance efficiency standards and on. Not an unimpressive list of scientific and clean energy programs. Embedded deeply in his letter is his conviction that rising temperatures present a present and growing danger to the planet and need be addressed. His tenure at Energy addressed this issue relentlessly, and even with the $500 million Solyndra debacle, built a foundation for research, creativity, and with funding guarantees to a plethora of clean energy projects supporting manufacturing plants throughout the country.

Top British politician admits obstructing justice

LONDON (AP) — It started with a traffic penalty. It ended in political exile.

Former British Cabinet minister Chris Huhne — once one of the country's leading politicians— has pleaded guilty to the charge of obstruction of justice over a career-wrecking attempt to pin a speeding penalty on his wife.

FMC nets Thunder Horse deal

FMC Technologies has scooped a subsea contract from BP for one of the UK supermajor's projects in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The services stalwart has been contracted to manufacture and supply subsea equipment to support water injection in the Thunder Horse field, it said on Monday.

Dana Gas profits flow as Egypt and Iraq disputes are cleared

Dana Gas, the Sharjah-based fuel producer, reported a 20 per cent jump in profits last year as payments began flowing from key production areas in Egypt and the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Zambia warns oil firms on licences: use them or lose them

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Zambia's mines and energy said on Monday the government would revoke oil exploration licences of companies that had been awarded them but had not started probing for crude.

A hydrocarbon scramble is underway in central and eastern Africa, sparked by oil finds in Uganda and promising gas discoveries off the coasts of Tanzania and Mozambique.

Aurizon Delays Coal Rail Opening on Flood-Damaged Tracks

Aurizon Holdings Ltd., Australia’s biggest transporter of coal by rail, delayed the opening of two tracks that carry the fuel for producing power and steel to Gladstone port in Queensland after floods damaged the system.

Genesis Energy, L.P. Announces Expansion of Existing Gulf Coast Terminal Infrastructure, New Crude Oil Pipeline and New Unit Train Facility

HOUSTON (BUSINESS WIRE) - Genesis Energy, L.P. today announced the company plans to invest approximately $125 million to improve existing assets and develop new infrastructure in Louisiana to connect into Exxon Mobil Corporation’s Baton Rouge Refinery, one of the largest refinery complexes in North America with more than 500,000 barrels per day of refining capacity. The project is expected to generate positive economic benefits both for the community of Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana.

Three more bodies found in rubble of Mexico skyscraper explosion; death toll hits 36

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican rescue workers found three more bodies over the weekend amid the rubble of a deadly blast that tore through state oil firm Pemex's main office complex on Thursday, the government said as search efforts appeared to near a close.

The death toll from Thursday's explosion stands at 36, Pemex said via Twitter. Rescue workers had been digging through the last sections of the building's basement and may soon call off their search. One person was reported still missing, and at least 121 people were injured.

Mexico Still Seeking Answers Days After Deadly Pemex Blast

The search for the cause of a blast that destroyed three floors of a building at Petroleos Mexicanos’s headquarters and killed at least 34 people entered a fourth day, as investigators toiled ahead of a self-imposed deadline for finding an answer.

Federal agents are reviewing tapes from banking facilities, such as Grupo Financiero BBVA Bancomer SA, in the complex as well as forensic, chemical and explosive evidence for clues to the cause of the Jan. 31 explosion.

Romania reverses course on shale gas

In a widely expected U-turn, Romanian authorities yesterday (31 January) gave the American energy giant Chevron the certificates it needed to start exploring for shale gas in the eastern part of the country.

The Romanian authorities reversed their decision from last April to suspend Chevron from gas exploration activities.

Colorado Communities Take On Fight Against Energy Land Leases

Coloradans in solidly red cities west of here are the ones who have written letters to the government supporting the lease sale, saying it will bring jobs and tax revenues. In Paonia, where political lines are more evenly split, residents have come out overwhelmingly against the idea of drilling, saying it threatens a new economy rooted in tourism, wineries and organic peaches.

“It’s just this land-grab, rape-and-pillage mentality,” said Landon Deane, who raises 80 cows on a ranch that sits near several federal parcels being put up for lease. Because of the quirks of mineral ownership in the West, which can divide ownership of land and the minerals under it, one parcel up for bid sits directly below Ms. Deane’s fields, where she has recently been thinking of sowing hops for organic beer.

“All it takes is one spill, and we’re toast,” she said.

Land Battles Rise as U.S. Eyes 450,000 Miles of New Pipe

When a power company tried to run cables over land owned by Larry Salois’s mother near Cut Bank, Montana, the native American fought the $400 million project.

He lost when the state passed a law forcing him to sell a right-of-way. Typical of U.S. property battles sparked by the quest for energy security, Tonbridge Power Inc. said it needed the most direct path for its electric line to wind farms, even though it would run across land holding a historical icon.

“They were going to put it right through the middle of a teepee ring,” said his attorney, Hertha Lund of Bozeman. The cluster of stones marked a foundation for ancient settlements left behind by the Plains and other Indians. They’re an irreplaceable cultural heritage to many native Americans.

Arctic nations' oil spill plans too vague -environmentalists

OSLO (Reuters) - Plans by Arctic nations to start cooperating over oil spills are vague and fail to define corporate liability for any accidents in an icy region opening up to oil and gas exploration due to global warming, environmentalists said on Monday.

A 21-page document by the eight-nation Arctic Council, seen by Reuters and due to be approved in May, says countries in the region "shall maintain a national system for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents."

Tepco Gets Approval for $7.5 Billion More Compensation Funds

Tokyo. Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) on Monday received approval to tap the Japanese government for $7.5 billion more funds to compensate those harmed by the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Centrica Pulls Out of Building Nuclear Plants in U.K. on Costs

Centrica Plc, the U.K.’s largest household energy supplier, opted out of a plan to build nuclear reactors in the U.K. with Electricite de France SA because of rising costs and will return 500 million pounds ($786 million) to investors by buying back shares.

Centrica, which had an option to take a 20 percent stake in four new reactors at two EDF power plants, said today it decided not to participate as the project is likely to cost more than originally planned and take longer than expected. That leaves the U.K.'s plan to build reactors without a British investor.

Sellafield management sharply criticised by Commons committee

The reputation of the nuclear industry faces further damage this week with the publication of a highly critical report on Monday on the management of the Sellafield plant in Cumbria, days before a court action over the illegal dumping of nuclear waste.

The moves follow Cumbria county council's refusal last week to pursue plans to build a storage facility for radioactive materials needed, many believe, if Britain is to build new atomic power stations.

U.S. backs off goal of one million electric cars by 2015

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday eased off President Barack Obama's stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015, and laid out what experts called a more realistic strategy of promoting advanced-drive vehicles and lowering their cost over the next nine years.

Electric Cars Head Toward Another Dead End

Are electric cars running out of juice again?

Recent moves by Japan's two largest automakers suggest that the electric car, after more than 100 years of development and several brief revivals, still is not ready for prime time - and may never be.

Why it makes sense for auto foes to join forces

FORTUNE -- It's lovely how a single element can bring several car companies together. Automakers are bonding to make cost-competitive vehicles that run on hydrogen, the upper-leftmost element on the periodic table.

Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did

Unemployment is at a record high of 26.8 percent in Greece, and many people have had their salaries and pensions cut, but those are not the main reasons so few residents here can afford heating oil. In the fall, the Greek government raised the taxes on heating oil by 450 percent.

IEA chief: 'Fossil fuel subsidies are public enemy number one for green energy'

The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s chief economist has today again urged governments around the world to end the $0.5tr of annual subsidies given to oil and gas production, while also warning that policy instability has become the greatest challenge facing renewable energy markets.

Speaking to delegates at the annual European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) conference in Vienna, the IEA's Dr Fatih Birol described fossil fuel subsidies as "public enemy number one" for the production of sustainable energy.

Wind turbines stall at 2 federal prisons

A $2.5-million wind turbine at the Dorchester Penitentiary has stopped working and the Correctional Service of Canada cannot estimate when it will be generating electricity again.

The federal government purchased two wind turbines for Canadian penitentiaries in the last five years but both units have caused problems.

Because Green Goes With Everything

Q Is green real estate a fad?

A On the contrary, it’s a necessity. With our mass transit, density and good bones, New York has the framework for being a more sustainable place. But if we don’t take advantage of these benefits, we’ll suffer. And as we learned from Hurricane Sandy, we have to develop good plans. We have to adapt to rising sea levels and to more severe storms, which will determine how and where we build. We have to create buildings that are both resilient and sustainable.

Singh: India not planning further emission cuts

India’s Prime Minster says developed countries are primarily responsible for addressing climate change, arguing his government has taken sufficient steps to promote low carbon growth.

Speaking at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit Dr Manmohan Singh said there could be “no progress” on avoiding the 2C target without further ambition from richer countries.

Nordic states eye 2050 carbon neutral energy system

Developing a carbon neutral energy system in the Nordic region by 2050 would cost less than 1% of cumulative GNP, a new analysis has revealed.

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have ambitions to cut emissions 85% by the middle of the century, but so far have lacked a clear strategy.

Republican energy plan calls for more drilling, nothing to rein in greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON — The Senate’s top Republican on energy issues, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, has crafted a blueprint for U.S. energy policy that calls for increased drilling while opposing laws to cap greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

"Energy 20/20" is a signal of how the Republicans want to proceed on energy policy in the coming years as the nation wrestles with contentious debates over oil drilling, fracking and climate change.

Robert Redford: You Can Move Washington, D.C. Forward on Climate Change

On February 17, tens of thousands are coming together in Washington, D.C. to ask the president to stand up for climate. The Forward on Climate Rally is expected to be the largest climate rally in U.S. history.

Maersk urges climate action

Maersk Container Industry (MCI) has called for tougher enforcement of European environmental legislation designed to protect the Earth's ozone layer and help prevent climate change.

"We urge the European Commission to ensure enforcement of existing EU legislation regarding insulation foam in reefer containers," said Peter Nymand, CEO for Maersk Container Industry. "This would benefit the environment, and it would help European innovation and environmental investments pay off."

Kiribati buying up land in Fiji

Kiribati, a scattered Pacific nation severely damaged by over-crowding and the impact of sea-level rise, has announced it is buying up land in Fiji.

"We are buying this land in Vanua Levu, near Savusavu, to address our food security and not for the relocation of our people," Kiribati President Anote Tong told the Fiji Times.

‘Mining’ groundwater could fuel climate change, study finds

The world’s increasing reliance on deep groundwater for agricultural, residential and industrial use is fuelling crop-damaging soil salinity and depleting the world’s supply of fresh water, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Low-lying crop lands here in B.C. could be threatened, as water brought to the surface for human needs compounds the rise in sea levels predicted by climate change models.

The most immediate impact of over-use of groundwater will be on our ability to feed ourselves, according to one of the study’s co-authors Diana Allen, a professor of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Oil industry insiders divided over longevity, feasability of shale play

The result is what Smith calls “an extremely dramatic decline curve.” Operators ultimately end up chasing the deposit sideways constantly, and the cost of drilling horizontally in pursuit of the ever-retreating reserve quickly surpasses the recovered oil return.

“Eventually horizontal drilling is suspended because operators reach a point where they are just burning cash.” Smith said.

The Eagle Ford Shale, which is currently 85 percent declined, is a perfect example of the limitations associated with horizontal drilling, Smith said.

Is the word finally getting around that shale plays have "extremely dramatic decline curves"?

Link up top: Vast Oil Reserve May Now Be Within Reach, and Battle Heats Up

Reading that article one would get the idea that these atrocious decline curves were not general knowledge. The word "decline" was not mentioned in that entire article.

Ron P.

You never hear anyone mentioning how expensive the "abundant reserves" are going to be to extract. The overwhelming assumption is that abundant = cheap.

Not only is word "decline" not mentioned, but the reason given for the potential of this play is technology, not price.

From the article:

"For decades, oilmen have been unable to extricate the Monterey Shale’s crude because of its complex geological formation, which makes extraction quite expensive. But as the oil industry’s technological advances succeed in unlocking oil from increasingly difficult locations, there is heady talk that California could be in store for a new oil boom."

Rockman has convinced me that it is price, not technology, that has "unlocked" these plays. The thing that galls me the most are the breathless exhortations that this is somehow a new paradigm of unlimited potential rather than just one in a very long series of oil booms and busts.

Such is the nature of extracting non-renewable natural resources. You come, hit pay dirt, pull it all out and move on. The shales will be no different and sooner than most expect.

I think the real 'advance' is in the regression of critical thinking and evaluation skills.

Sorry to those who have heard it already, but, today's MSM markets crap really well. The public, and their elected representatives, are more distracted and less able (and willing) to evaluate the truth of competing claims.

Ideology weighs heavily these days (playing on the greater fear today present in individuals and groups), and with overpowering support from hand-picked media sources, gains greater clout.

Our society's money imperative gives free reign to pursue ever more money, allowing hucksters constitutionally unfettered access to people's brains.

So we have have greed, fear, invoked stupidity and the 'I want to believe' factors all coming together.

DEVO was right, humans are devolving.

Seems like a reasonable theory but what I am interested in is why are certain people able to resist this devolution you speak of. Or are they? Are we? And if so, why?

Some are afflicted more than others. Some afflicted can reverse course, many won't.

Foremost is family and upbringing, secondarily ongoing relationships - to one's self and others.

Mentally healthy self loving and self respecting individuals have less need to buy into the groupthink of the day. Or buy crap in general. Self respecting people are offended by overtly manipulative marketing, for example. The word of experts is not believed over one's own thoughts and feelings ("Who are you going to believe - me or your own lying eyes?").

How does one acquire this self love? Primarily from a healthy childhood. An early life where the child is loved supported allowed to feel, learn, heal. Distressed adults produce distressed offspring. All humans need attention, acceptance, affection, appreciation and allowing. Food clothing shelter too. All these produce humans with high self esteem; humans with high self esteem act in loving ways towards themselves and those around them, and the planet and other life forms.

Have you ever wondered why poverty stricken people can smile and you can't? Ever wondered why white middle and upper class western men kill themselves at the highest rate of all groups on earth?

Isolation and addiction, inappropriate anger, all means of escape and coping are not only prevalent in our sick culture, they are actually celebrated. The lone male, quiet and aloof, is the recipe for loneliness and early death.

You can't heal, or maintain health, alone. Humans are social creatures, healing takes place with others. Watching TV, staring at screens, riding in cars, striving for money: None of these are healthy or healing or nurturing.

Having the courage to change is what we need. The courage to ask for help. Feelings must be felt... as feelings. Get on with your life without letting feelings define you. Fear is a feeling, as are sadness and anger, joy and shame. Those are not who you are.

With healthy boundaries and some work, people are capable of loving themselves and others, healing themselves, and becoming part of a loving healing community. It's not mysterious, it's not complicated. Children raised well possess all these things, inherently.

It is mightily resisted.

Not disputing what you've said (it makes much sense), just suggesting there are likely also other factors. Just to point to one that I feel is important in my resistance to the memes of the dominant culture - exposure/involvement/connection to the real world of woods/waters/mountains etc. I dislike the term 'nature', but that would work, too. I feel that I tend more toward self-loathing than self-loving, but not since high school have I bought into the buy, spend, consume dominant messages. And even then, my buy in was minimal. Have always driven a car with the highest mpg I could find/afford, as it never made sense to me to spend more than necessary to get from A to B just to look cool or something. I could give lots of other anecdotal examples, but my point is - and I've discussed this with a few other like-minded folks who agree (gee, surprise!) - that having a foot in the mud & leaves, so to speak, predisposes one to resist consumer culture.

Because are we not men? We are devo.
I hear we lost our tails evolving up from little snails...

On a serious note, i am dealing with the notion of decline rates and our apparent abundance of gas which will supply a number of LNG plants.

So true Ron. The dynamics of fracture production have been well known (and modeled) by the oil patch for more than half a century. Oil production from the Monterey Shale ain’t a new idea either:

“…the Monterey: the play has a long, rich history, with first production as early as 1895 in the Santa Joaquin Basin. In 1905, the first fractured Monterey shale production began in the Santa Maria basin with vertical initial production (IP) rates ranging from 100 to 700 Bbls/d. In 1969 the first offshore Monterey reservoir was discovered…at South Ellwood field on the Santa Barbara County coast.” And if I recall correctly some horizontal wells were eventually drilled in this field way back when. The above paper goes into a lot of detail as well as speculating on the actual potential of the MS.

I keep seeing a funny little world come up when mentioning shale that I wonder if it evolved into the lexicon intentionally or not: "Play"

fun or jest, as opposed to seriousness
to amuse oneself; toy; trifle
to take part in a game for stakes; gamble

Are shales "plays" because they are a gamble? Or a trifle, unworthy of seriousness? That word got in there for some reason.


...a play is defined as a set of known or postulated oil and or gas accumulations sharing similar geologic, geographic, and temporal properties, such as source rock, migration pathways, timing, trapping mechanism, and hydrocarbon type (Gautier and others, 1996, fig. 1).

Figure 1

See also The Exploration Play - What Do We Mean by It?

Among the oil and gas exploration community the “play” has an almost mythical status - the successful play is the thing of which legends are made and “play-makers” are regarded as heroes of the industry. But what is the play exactly and why do we need it? Curiously, considering the long period it has been in daily use it has never really been unambiguously defined and, as a result, it can mean - within fairly broad limits - what people wish it to mean.

Here is a more objective assessment:

The Monterey Shale: Big Deal, or Big Bust?, AAPG Explorer (American Association of Petroleum Geologists), David Brown, Nov. 11, 2012.

In the Southern California/L.A. Basin area, “there is a lot of stuff unknown,” he said. “The other thing is that there has been 2-D seismic in the L.A. Basin but no 3-D seismic, except for what we’ve done in the Long Beach area.”

Several companies are looking at the Monterey Shale as a resource play, taking various approaches to the problem, but no one has been able to characterize the Monterey’s geology and develop a fully successful approach to tapping its potential.

... the EIA put technically recoverable shale oil resources in the onshore lower 48 states at 23.9 billion barrels.

The Monterey/Santos shale play in southern California was estimated to hold 15.42 billion barrels...

In the play area, the shale is 1,000-3,000 feet thick at depths ranging from 8,000-14,000 feet.

“This is a very expensive, risky project. There are a lot of places it can get knocked down,” he warned.

Question for someone with experience with solar hot water panels. I have a simple direct recirculation system, and hard freezes are a rare problem here in central Florida.

I placed a thermometer sensor at the upper junction between the 2 panels. This winter I noticed that on a cold clear night the temperature at this point would go 10-15° below the air temperature. Black body radiation to the night sky.

What I don't understand is why the temperature at this point passes right through freezing? When I got up this morning air was 40°F and the panel sensor read 24°F. If the panels are at 24 they should be froze solid, but I turn on the circulater pump and the water starts circulating. within a couple minutes it's up to 50.

I would dismiss it as a bad sensor except that I have a second sensor at the same point that matches the readings. This second sensor is a universal temperature controller to start the circulation pump at freezing(not on this morning).

A third sensor just inside the attic on the output goes down to air temperature (40°) after starting the pump.

Why am I seeing impossibly low temps at the top junction? I have rechecked the thermistors, verifying they are against the brass coupling, and added more insulation wrap.

Certainly looks like a bad or mismatched thermistor. Test all of your sensors in a glass of ice water; should be at or near 32. I keep a lab calibration thermometer handy to check electronic thermometers against. No reason for the big temp difference excepting instumentation problems. Too warm for frost or evaporative cooling. You can buy various thermistors cheap at radio shack to check against. Also, check the resistance of your wiring. Could be a bad connection somewhere.


Also, the thermistor may be calbrated for a higher range of temps:

Thermistors have the advantage of a very high sensitivity to temperature changes, but the disadvantage of an aggressively nonlinear characteristic. Here is a characteristic curve showing the resistance of a typical negative temperature coefficient thermistor device over a temperature range from 0 to 100 degrees C.


Thanks Ghung, I'm using GE RL0503-5820-97-MS (Datasheet)

Shows -Operating range: -58°F to 302°F (-50°C to 150°C)

Maybe tomorrow morning I'll crawl up there with my infrared meter.

I'd go with Gung's test but make sure you use the same leads. Measure the resistance of the thermistor loop to the meter and check what the meter is seeing. Cable and joint resistance may well throw things out. Check for voltage from the sensor, there shouldn't be any but any induced current or thermocouple effect in joints may throw you out.

Can it not be that the water drains from the collector when the circulation pump stops? This is how my solar hot water system prevents overheating and freezing of the circulation liquid (plain water).

No, Mine is a simple, 1970's circa, recirculation system. No drainback.

If yours is a drainback system, you should have glycol, not plain water as your working fluid.

Why? If the collector is too cold or too hot then there's no water in the collector or going into the collector...

Always thought glycol was used in drainback systems for safety(Legionellosis). Can't find anything to support that right now.

The more reading up on SHW I do, the more I'm convinced PV is the way to go, problems switching the DC notwithstanding.

I'm not using glycol in my home-built drainback system and don't worry about legionella since the system is frequently well above 140 degrees (currently at 152). I do add a boiler treatment to reduce corrosion and bacterial growth. Glycol is expensive but recommended for closed loop systems in areas that freeze, even infrequently. Glycol also aids heat transfer a bit and inhibits corrosion.

I just unloaded my new PV panels and have decided to use my 4 spares to heat water. We'll see how that goes. I'll be busy for a while; need to rack up 12 panels and install my new FlexMax 80 (charge controller, a thing of beauty ;-) Feed the batteries first.


I'm at the other end of the home power scale with the coming of today's mail.. just got the lowest voltage meters I could find, little LCD's that can read from one cell up to 8 or so.. made to be simple battery testers, but I'll be building them into a Solar charger for my old HP 200LX, running on 2AA batts.. but as with ALL these systems, from the Teeniest to the Grossest, battery management is key to the kingdom. But I'm still amazed at how few decent products are out there to deal with the many AA-AAA powered items.

(It's along the lines of this.. about the only tiny batt meter that could measure 1, 2 or more cells..)

Very happy with this ... Eneloop batteries only. 12Vdc Input. http://www.amazon.com/La-Crosse-Technology-BC500-Rechargeable/dp/B0031ER...

Thanks, I've looked it over a few times, as well as this one, the Powerex,


..recommended by master-preparedness Energy-Wacko Steve Harris.. said with all due reverence. (comes in a 4 or 8 cell version)

But I've been eager to find something like a Beam-level ultralight circuit for solar charging and managing 2 or 3 cells in-situ, for a small device to be able to have a perch on the windowsill much of the time, and just be charged and healthy about it for whenever you need it. That means both a charge limit and a Low-voltage warning and cutoff.

As with so many of these things, it might seem excessive amount of effort, but once the pattern exists, those items can be reproduced, and will be as bulletproof as the old Solar Desk Calculators that I'd guess most each of us has a few of kicking around.. and which, if we grabbed one right now and put it under the 5am desk lamp, it would work.

THAT's what I'd like to see as a standard for my Flashlight, my Radio, Voltmeters and my HP-PDA. (and add in my Lightmeter, Non-Contact Thermometer, maybe a Remote, an FRS Walkie Talkie set, etc.. LOTS of elemental items that live and die on little cells.)

Did a little testing, getting this voltmeter out of its cheap plastic shell.. and it'll be a charm! Happy to read < 1. volt batt cond's, and up to 9v at least off the same leads, powered BY the battery it's testing. So this will be able to Live right in the HP Solar circuit, giving me an instantaneous, detailed reading on my battery condition, including a confidence read to see how much a given light-source is feeding the batts.

I do have a fine collection of 'AA Scale' PV panels now, rescued from junky Patio Path lights and holiday decorations.. just waiting to find the right circuit from maybe those beam and leaf robotics guys, so I can make my own Window-box Garden for these modestly hungry little tools. It would be a nice way to start to block the stream of Mercury Button Batteries that flow through our little worlds lately, as well.

Ghung. I am decided to get into promoting the multiple uses of PV to my local mob of new-found fellow enthusiasts, and to this end have decided to buy about 3 pallets of panels to put on my perfect site, charging my 48 V batteries, etc,

Among the many different panels being offered here and there, do you have a recommendation? I don't have enough on the ground experience to make logical distinctions among them,

I don't need the exactly perfect choice, just a choice good enough to not make me feel stupid a year from now.

Gosh, wimbi, funny you should ask. Logged on this morning to order a breaker and it looks like $0.65/watt is back, including some of the lower wattages suitable for 12 volt systems. Suggest that you move quickly, because these panels will at that price. Upon inspection, the panels I received yesterday are excellent. Time, of course, will tell...

Someone asked a couple of weeks ago about the laminates for metal roofs. Looks they have those again, really cheap.

Mount'em or weep!

My second system (the first one is sitting on my parents house) is going to use US made hi-eff Sunpower panels because I have very little roof space and want to maximize production, unfortunately those panels go for multiples of $0.65/Wp :-(

Not to burst your bubble, but Sunpower is 60% owned by Total (French) and the high-efficiency panels you mention are likely made at their plant in the Philippines.

That said, it would be nice to have higher output from a smaller footprint, one reason I opted out of purchasing amorphous panels.

Someone asked a couple of weeks ago about the laminates for metal roofs.

That was me, Ghung. But I don't see 'em on that site. Name/tab/keyword help much appreciated. Thanks.

Wow, it seems the site has reverted back to another page. Their site is a bit erratic at times, not sure why. I clear my cache, so the page that came up this morning had to come from their site. Sorry, all. Suggest you call and ask WTF.

Anyway, they listed various Unisolar laminates for about $.50/watt. Give them a call and ask, if you're willing to take a chance on Unisolar. These were good products in a lousy niche.

edit: Yeah, I called my guy and they had some sort of IT screw-up (he's not happy), and they still have the laminates in several wattages, though maybe not as short as you were looking for.

edit 2: perhaps this subthread should be deleted after wimbi's post, since it began with erroneous info; save the bandwidth.

Wimbi, send me an e-mail and I'll put you onto a 'next best deal'.

"However, there is a danger with solar collectors when used under clear night conditions (e.g. in arid and semi arid regions) that they can actually freeze even when the ambient temperature is above freezing point."

Never would have thought of that. So the panels are insulated enough that the net loss of heat from long-wave radiation is greater than the gain from conduction from the roof or the air. The only way I could see to slow/stop that is to put a low-emissivity coating on the glass.

Could the panels actually be freezing - just not solid? They must not spend that much time at those temperatures being in Florida, but perhaps the insides of the pipes are forming a wall of ice which would insulate the pipe's core tending to keep the core liquid...the thicker the ice wall, the more insulating until it's solidly frozen - but the sun or yourself comes along before that happens. It would allow the panel to drop below the freezing point without converting all of the water in the pipes to ice. (Plus the water in the system probably isn't pure and so would have a freezing point below 32F)

I did some more checking this morning about sunrise. Air temp was 40°F, readings on the in house thermometers 26°.

Up on the roof I had 3 different thermistor sensors taped to the pipe. They all read 35-36°. My infrared read 36°, there was liquid dew on the pipes, so I'm pretty confident of those readings.

Has to be something to do with the 50' of 18ga. zip wire running through the attic and down into the house. All my connections are carefully soldered & heatshrinked, plus the thermistors are dipped in JB weld. The thermisters run about 35K ohm at 32°, so another 2 or so ohms of wire resistance shouldn't matter.

I suggest you hook a thermistor to the unit in the house and try the ice water thing. If it reads at or near 32, it's the wire or thermistor on the roof.

Looks like that's what I need to do to the thermistors on the roof.

Didn't really want to undo my affixing and insulation tape.

The net loss rate to a clear sky is usually in the 100-200 watts/meter range, so surfaces can get a lot colder than air temps. Its how you get frost on a 40F Morning. And roof surfaces usually drop beloew the ambient air temp. Even vertical outside walls can get significantly colder than ambient.
I've also noticed that sky temps can be reflected by reflective thermal radiation barriers (like AtticFoil). I have some of this below a window to increase solar gain. On dewy mornings the window near the reflector has dew when nearby windows of the same orientation with reflectors don't.

RE: Because Green Goes With Everything

New York's Governor buys into the scenario:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is proposing to spend as much as $400 million to purchase homes wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, have them demolished and then preserve the flood-prone land permanently, as undeveloped coastline.

(When Government Gets It). This is like the towns that have moved to higher ground following flood after flood.

Some of them went green and now can even sell electricity, sending excess production back into the grid system.

Since these properties are virtually worthless because they are in harms way, I don't like the idea of using My tax money to pay top dollar for them.

Bad enough now, but a few years down the road?

Turnbull FL,

Your tax dollars pay for the federal flood insurance because private insurers are in the know and do not provide it.

The last sentence in the linked post: "Did I mention who should pay the lion's share of the damages?"

Don't these properties already have federal flood insurance? If so, wouldn't they receive federal payments for their losses? Assuming that they choose not to rebuild, wouldn't the payment from New York be for the depreciated value of the property? Don't know, just asking. Surely they will not wait for the properties to be rebuilt and then buy them.

Another consideration, however, is that the state and federal government will avoid future costs of flood insurance and clean up if they buy out these properties. In that sense, the properties are not worthless to the government because it would be avoiding future costs.

This begs other questions, of course. With this precedent, maybe the government should start buying out the millions of homes that currently reside in high risk forest areas. This might be a bit different,however, in the sense that these are privately insured. Or not. It is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to buy insurance in forested areas. So, in that sense, the private market may take care of the problem.

While it might make sense to simply deny further flood insurance for flood prone areas, politically there is no way in hell Cuomo or any other politician is going to stick his/her neck out and suggest such a thing. Even so called conservatives in southern states with flood prone coastlines won't touch that. Conservative principles stop at the water's edge so to speak.

I have no problem with the Federal Flood insurance program, except when they pay over and over for the same property rebuilt the same way.

Buying up properties because of rising sea levels is something else entirely. Are tax dollars going to buy everybody's house in Miami at current market values? Of all such program I've seen so far, people demand market value, and that is what the gov. has paid.

Case in point, the Kissimmee river restoration project. Farmers not only demanded full market value, but they also wanted lost future profits. Expensive precedents are being set.


Another consideration, however, is that the state and federal government will avoid future costs of flood insurance and clean up if they buy out these properties.


When Irene came through there was damage and a ho-hum attitude.

Then came Sandy the very next year with payments anew on the same properties.

It is cheaper to buy them out than repaying every year or so Groundhog Day movie style.

They are in general down 25% in selling price now.

“…the state and federal government will avoid future costs of flood insurance and clean up if they buy out these properties.” Actually the govt doesn't pay anything...in theory. There is actually an insurance company (owned by the govt) that pays the claims. And just like every other insurance company they pay the claims with the monies collected from the policy owners. Which was working out just fine until Katrina. Heard the head of the fed flood ins. program on NPR a few weeks ago. The Katrina claims were so large he had to borrow money from the govt. And the flood ins. program will pay it back from the fees it continues to collect from home owners. Unfortunately the fees collected are still so small this repayment will take decades. And that’s if there isn’t another major even. Oops…already had one…Sandy.

So the solution seems simple enough: raise the flood ins. premiums high enough to actually cover past and future claims. Of course this probably means many won’t be able to afford the higher premiums. I suspect there would be a call for the govt to buy those folks out.

Well then. This appears to be an area where the Libertarians may have been right. The government should not have been in the business of flood insurance because it creates artificial distortions. The government flood insurance is too cheap and thus is not properly reflecting the risk. So people are just rebuilding in flood-prone areas because that artificially cheap flood insurance is available. The insurance should accurately reflect the risks. Thus people will decide whether to rebuild or not based on a more accurate view of the costs. The lenders should also be reticent to finance projects that have a high flood risk.

Of course who knows if private insurance would do any better. In view of climate change, the private insurers don't know how to gauge the risks. Many private insurers have just decided to not write such policies . . . and thus demand for the government-based insurance.

And insuring coastal real-estate? That is rich people real-estate. Government flood insurance is welfare for the rich.

spec - Apparently private insurers had a good idea of what the risks were. When they calculated the premiums they were too high for almost everyone to pay for it. So the feds step in and agree to take the risk by backing the flood ins program. And they are thus covering their bet today. Just as they'll cover the future bet especially if they don't raise the premiums. Of course, if they do folks won't buy it. That could make resale rather difficult. And that would hurt the economy and GDP. So I'll guess the govt will continue issuing cheap flood ins on the hope that when it blows up again those currently in power won't be around. Sounds like a good plan to me...if I were one of those politicians


It's more than a good plan, it's the American Way.

Spec, Rock, and sgage - spot on. I'm with Spec on this, so far as I think the Libertarians were right on this one. I'm finding them right on a number of others as well. So far as The Good Plan, Rock and s, well, ugh. That's all I gotta say on that.

I've read several articles lately on how private insurers are responding to climate change. So far as I can tell it's just a matter of actuarial numbers. Perhaps Gail could chime in, if she's watching. Premiums are going up across a number of risk classes, from what I see. Gotta expect more of that, I would think.

It's just gonna get messier. I still maintain we will need to draw down CO2 at some point. How on earth we do that without lots and lots of non-CO2 juice I haven't a clue. That bloody scale thing again.

If you accept that much of the damage (at least the first time, before being rebuilt) was due to human caused climate change, perhaps you could suggest how Libertarians would go about charging those responsible for the damage?

I assume the Libertarian response would be litigation, though given the scope and complexities involved here, I get the feeling that this is an issue where the Libertarians are not right.

They were right on this but wrong on far more. For example, climate change cannot be addressed rationally with Libertarian principles since they end up treating the atmosphere as a public dumping ground.

A functioning court system is needed - something most Libertarians want nothing to do with.

An example of a functioning Court system and 'public space' would be the Mangrove swamp cited in Odum's book on eMergy.

(what the Libertarian party doesn't understand is how a party becomes in power is by delivering results to the electorate. A functioning court system wouldn't have , as an example, allowed the LIBOR scandal to go the way it did. )

More than a court system you need to have a lot of rules that strictly limit what people & businesses can dump into the atmosphere. And Libertarians just don't ever agree to such rules because they go into climate change denialism.

spec - I don't think it wil make much difference how the court system functions when the worse of PO starts hammering the economies. There's a good bit of tap dancing around all those issues today. But when it gets really bad that dance will grind to a halt. I expect what safeguard regs out there now will be officially weakened or at least innored by the regulators. Either way cases won't end up in the courts.

I think that libertarians would take a stance on climate change, and to answer another post I think libertarians do see a place for the court system. Libertarians want the court system to protect liberty and private property rights. That's the angle where people who want libertarians to jump on the climate change bandwagon should point.

As a libertarian I would use the courts to protect my private property rights and liberty. If there was proof that something that you did on your property (polution) caused me to loose value or liberty(my life) then I would go to court to sue for protection of my rights.

Libertarians don't want a nanny state but they don't believe in total Anarchy. Government's role is to protect the rights of the individual.

Let's be realistic: most people who identify as "libertarian" have simply been fooled into supporting corporate power.

For instance, "nanny state" is really code for an effective government that prevents pollution, consumer fraud, etc.

Nanny state is out right in the open. It doesn't take a hidden code to see a mayor of New York telling people what to eat and what to drink for instance.

Nick, show me some examples of effective government that I would call the nanny state.

I have the impression that most of the NYC food-related stuff is disclosure: menus that show fat content, etc.

examples of effective government that I would call the nanny state.

Well, the obvious example in this forum is a carbon tax. Simple, effective, and demonized by FF industries and their allies in Fox news, talk radio, etc.

Nanny State laws are useless laws imposed on individuals to protect them from themselves. Usually "Social Costs" are used as reasoning to justify.

1. Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks to ban the sale of sodas.
2. Texting While Jaywalking.
3. Mandatory Life Jackets on Rivers.
4. The Saggy Pants Law.
5. Fines For Muddy Cars.
6. Sunscreen at Summer Camps.
7. Outdoor Smoking Ban.
8. Toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals.
9. Illegal to Store Junk in Your Car.
10. San Francisco Recycling Fines.
11. Online Gambling.
12. California Ban on Cooking with Transfat.
13. Flat Sheets in California Hotels.
14. Cursing Within Earshot of Other People.
15. Screeching Your Tires.

Technically speaking, though, those aren't "nanny state" laws. "Nanny state" generally refers to national laws.

Those are local laws. You can't call a law in the town of Fort Lee, NJ "Big Government." It's the opposite: the local government that so many conservatives say they want.

Nick, I kind of set you up with that request. I asked for "examples of effective government that I would call the nanny state". Whether or not I would honestly agree with any answer you could find would have been at my descretion and that's not fair to you, but the answer you picked is not and example effective government. It can't even get close to being put into law in United States, so it can't be an example as of yet.

Now, I would say that there are a few FF companies and Oilfield service companies that would love to see a carbon tax along with carbon credits. Denbury resources for one was banking on the passage Carbon plan Obama had wanted at one point and any company that fracks for a living wanted to get to work pumping CO2 back into old oil and gas reseviors in order to offset carbon use by conpanies. There was big money to be made either way, don't think for one minute that some big companies were not lobbying for the carbon tax to be law.

European personal fuel consumption is 18% of US levels, largely due to fuel taxes (geography and history play a part, of course, but a smaller one).

Take a look at the "Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did" article above. Predictably, it focuses on anecdotal side effects, but the key thing: the tax reduced overall fuel oil consumption by 70%.

I'd say that was effective.

"For instance, "nanny state" is really code for an effective government that prevents pollution, consumer fraud, etc."

The Nanny State also requires me to buy anti-lock brakes, air bags, and stability control systems, whether I want them or not. And it prohibits me from buying a horse steak at the store. That is far different than preventing fraud or pollution.

And I'm glad you have anti-lock brakes. Because otherwise the risk to me and my loved ones goes up. Its all about finding a balance between freedom and license. Freedom to do as I please, versus freedom from arbitrary effects of others doing as they please. Where exactly to set the nanny-needle will always be contentious. But anywhere near the middle ought to work OK.

Anti-lock brakes are a compensation for a lack of driving skill...since few seem to really know how to drive it's probably a good thing that cars have them but the system is also pretty complex. A computer, pumps, solenoids, valves, and wheel sensors all waiting to fail. I can't tell you the number of cars I've ridden in that have the "abs" light on.

The Prius brake system is terrifying - the actual brakes that you feel are simulated. The effort you put into the pedal dead-ends at something called the "stroke simulator" and there are 7 pressure sensors, a hydraulic pump which actually does the work, an accumulator, and about 10 solenoid valves all before you reach the calipers.

Anti-lock brakes are a compensation for a lack of driving skill

That's unrealistic. There's no way a human can pump/modulate the brakes like an ABS system.

There's no reason a human should modulate brakes like a jackhammer - it's stupid. "Anti-lock" is a bit of a misnomer as well since they actually do lock a hell of a lot, but happen to release after doing it. With proper threshold braking a person can stop faster than stomping on the brake and relying on ABS - but people are panicky creatures and care more about the phone conversation they're having than driving.

ABS wasn't designed for normal braking, it was designed for bad ice - humans can't come close to what ABS can do on wet ice.

40 years ago, when ABS was new, GM liked to put stunt drivers in 18-wheelers on an icy track at their proving grounds, and have the two trucks drive towards each other at high speed, with a shorter than normal stopping distance (for dry conditions) between them.

Always got the crowd...

Cadence braking, modulating brakes like a jack-hammer, is recommended for certain situations and can stop you a lot faster than threshold breaking which often falls far short of maximum breaking effectiveness. ABS allows non-trained drivers to use cadence braking but cannot allow for situations where it is less effective. Remember that you may need to avoid another driver's mistake and it is not always because you care more about the phone conversation, it may be that is what the one you are avoiding is doing. Perhaps the driver training in the USA is not up to snuff.


There's no way a human can pump/modulate the brakes like an ABS system.

That's not true. I can modulate the brakes on a car better than an ABS system. Mind you, I grew up in Canada in a town that couldn't afford to sand or salt the streets, so we all learned how to drive on glare ice. And we couldn't afford to buy new tires, so we were all used to driving with bald tires on glare ice.

ABS systems are for people who didn't learn to drive under these conditions.

We got really good at it and used to hold car spinning competitions in the middle of Main Street. I think the record was three end-for-end rotations in the middle of Main Street, in the middle of the night, right in front of my father's store.

But, as my father always said to me and my brother, "I know what you're doing son, just don't let me catch you doing it." He never did. He had been a bit of a hell-raiser himself in his youth, so he knew it was important for us to know what the rules were so we could avoid them.

The good thing about it was that we learned to drive really well under really, really bad conditions. If the car starts skidding on the black ice and gets sideways on the highway, you just take it out of the skid and keep on driving. The only difficult thing to deal with is the screaming of the passengers.

Anti-lock brakes are not mandated by the government in the U.S. It's the free market that's driving them. People who want safer cars, and insurance companies that set rates that encouraged ABS.

"Anti-lock brakes" are not but "Electronic Stability Control" has been mandated for all vehicles from 2012 on. Since ESC basically is ABS plus a few lines of code...well - de facto mandate. It also includes "traction control."

The Nanny State also requires me to buy anti-lock brakes, air bags, and stability control systems, whether I want them or not.

My bicycle doesn't have any of those things. For that matter, other than air bags, neither does my little 13 year old four cylinder car. Though it does have a five speed manual transmission which I know how to use in an emergency. Except for an idiot with anti-lock brakes who rear ended me at a red light once, I have 48 years of accident free driving on three continents.

Since I have zero intention of ever buying a new car again, I guess I won't be coerced by the 'Nanny State' to buy any of the items you mention >;-)

Disclaimer: Though if the 'Nanny State' starts trying to tell what to put in my electric assist velomobile I'll probablly still be pretty POed (Peak Oiled?).

That's the angle where people who want libertarians to jump on the climate change bandwagon should point.

As a libertarian I would use the courts to protect my private property rights and liberty. If there was proof that something that you did on your property (polution) caused me to loose value or liberty(my life) then I would go to court to sue for protection of my rights.

Yeah. Explain how that works.
A: Heh neighbor, I'm suing you because your SUV is causing flooding on my property due to climate change!
B: Not my fault . . . no, your flooding is caused by some Chinese factory using coal, go sue them.

Really . . . how do you use the court system on climate change. There are actually some cases filed against energy companies trying to do something but I'm pretty sure they'll just get thrown out of court.

I'm not talking about getting courts to do anything, I'm giving advice on how to engage libertarians in order to get them on your side. If libertarians see climate change as something that affects thier private property rights and takes away liberty, then maybe they would be open to a political movement toward fixing the problems.

It seems to me that if there's a dangerous ideology to generalize about, it's the Libertarians.. about as easy to define as 'Jazz'.

I often appreciate the core desire, but the outlying assumptions and exceptions seem to vary wildly depending on the person.

I agree with comment Libertarians are hard to nail down. That's why I say use basic private property rights and liberty as the way to engage them all. The only problem with that is if a person thats concerned about climate change is also a staunch socialist, then it may be personally hard to use the private property angle to get people on your side.

That's where I think the problem is, many people that are concerned about climate change today are also tied to the political philosophy they attached themselves to yesterday. So how can you broaden your coalition if you have nothing to offer the other side intelectually.

How do you get a devoted Christian conservative to care about your concerns if your an Athiest that won't make a bible based argument against contributing to climate change? I'm sure it can be done, but you have to be willing to leave something personal at the door in order to reach out to broaden your coalition. I don't think that's too wacky, that's how you win the debate and move on to reaching your goal. I think people on this site are smart enough to get that!

Well, having some Austro-libertarian leanings, I'll second (third?) the comments that Libertarians are pretty hard to pin down at times. On past DrumBeats I've laid out a few of the Austro-libertarian positions, should folks want to search.

So far as climate change and property rights go, sadly I concluded a while back that the time to have done that effectively was over a hundred and fifty years ago. Speculawyer - mebbe you know. There were a series of court decisions here in the U.S. around that time which basically said the common good outweighed individual property rights, and thus pollution was to be tolerated, if not condoned, since our nascent industrial development was clearly perceived to be in the common interest.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, I'm sure. The end result was a lot of pollution, of course, to the point today where we're really up a creek.

Since you couldn't really effectively bring suit to protect your property rights, and thus force the pollution issue back on the polluter up front, we've had to go at it from the back side. Go after the polluter after they've made a stinking mess of the place. Since the individual property owner was legally powerless (in most cases), the only force capable was the government.

And, to be fair (and un-libertarian) the government has had some success in this area. Many regulations have helped substantially. To the Libertarian this is a case of being able to round up a few of the horses after you let them all out of the corral, but hey, a few horses in better than none, I suppose.

So from a practical point of view, in the current day, regulation seems the only available recourse. However, as we discover time and time again, not only does regulation respond to a problem after it's occurred, but in this day of Citizen's United (courts are good, you say???) it is becoming alarmingly easy for the polluter to co-opt or otherwise neuter the regulators. Nothing a good campaign contribution won't cure, it seems.

Which has to be incredibly frustrating for those dedicated and conscientious regulators who are trying to do their job and just get smacked down by some political hack higher up the food chain.

Which brings us finally back to climate change. If regulation is our only recourse, and it can be demonstrated to be patently avoidable, what now?

I wish I knew.

The flood insurance program was passed into law in 1968, before climate change awareness evidently:

The NFIP [National Flood Insurance Program] is meant to be self-supporting, though in 2003 the GAO found that repetitive-loss properties cost the taxpayer about $200 million annually. [2003 figures]

(Wikipedia). Anyone care to bet taxpayer loss is higher than $200,000,000 now?

Just the Sandy episode had the congress's bloomers all in a knot over $60-70 billion just for that.

Sandy alone would take 350* years @ only $200,000,000 pay outs per year ("repetitive-loss properties cost the taxpayer about $200 million annually") (*70 billion divided by 200 million is 350).

I would say taxpayer hits have skyrocketed since the 2003 $200,000,000 per year taxpayer pay outs. (CLUE: private insurance companies don't gamble at that casino.)

And did I mention damage to public facilities which taxpayers also pay for?

Dredd – Good dig…thanks. Got me thinking about all the other underfunded programs the feds back up. I don’t recall details but the fund that backs up retirement programs is in the red. And maybe the program that backs up bank deposits also. And, of course, there’s the Fannie May nightmare. I think I recall how much the union retirement programs are underfunded also. I wonder if anyone in the govt, like the GAO, has the nerve to add up all this underfunded liability facing the govt/tax payers? I wonder also how much of those local/state damaged facilities didn’t have adequate coverage.

And it’s not just the govt. After taking some pretty big hits the ins companies who underwrite offshore operations in the GOM limited how much they would insure in certain areas as well as putting a cap on claims PER EVENT. So many companies have to self-insure some facilities. But what about liability if there’s another major hit and companies are left holding a very big bag after the event cap is reached? I’m not sure but I don’t think companies are accounting for this POTENTIAL liability in their financials. And that makes me wonder how many other biz sectors have such exposures.

Folks go on about how much money the feds are borrowing and that liability. I wonder if you add up all the un/underfunded govt and corporate programs if that might match or exceed the national debt. At least with the national debt we’ve been able to refi as we go But if PO/AGW starts really putting the screws to all this other liabilities how do we cover it? Raise those taxes/premiums in the face of a major economic turn down…not likely. Print more money? Sooner or later that has to cause inflation problems. Just heard this morning a story that the feds printing money (and thus lowering the value of the $) is part of the reason oil has gotten so high and stayed there despite decreased consumption. IOW the feds have created an inflated oil price…inflation not used to calculate the national inflation rate if I’m correct.

Unfunded federal liabilities vastly exceed the current national debt. I've seen estimates of over 200 trillion dollars.

Expect a lot of inflation.

The very readable recent white paper "Perfect Storm - Energy, finance and the end of growth" by Dr. Tim Morgan http://ftalphaville.ft.com/files/2013/01/Perfect-Storm-LR.pdf made an estimate of US 57 trillion for federal debt and quasi-debt.

Pages 54-55, in particular, place numbers on the components of the US debt.

Page 57 outlines the reprocussions:

"Of course, these obligations are not, technically, the same as debt, in that they are political rather than contractual commitments which, in theory at least, can be cancelled by a simple vote in Congress or Parliament. This said, it is difficult to envisage a situation in which Congress tells contributors to Social Security or Medicare schemes that “we’re sorry, folks, but you’re not going to get paid after all”, any more than one can picture a British government publically reneging on its public sector pension promises.

That these payments will be subject either to massive devaluation or to outright repudiation seems inevitable, in that the American, British and many other Western governments simply cannot afford to honour the promises made by their predecessors."

The end result is a reduced standard of living. The only question is who's?

Inflation will benefit the folks that currently own the assets and folks receiving government income either directly as an employee, retiree, social security/Medicare recipient etc. or indirectly such as a defense contractor. The loser being those that don't fall into these categories and the younger generations.

The other way to go is not inflate, let the deflation happen as debts are wiped off the books and let all the pension funds, including social security and government pensions, pay out a percentage based on the current funds available, just like private industry does today. This would put the reduced standard of living onto the generations that have benefited from the credit expansion and lessen the burden on future generations.

For the time being, inflation and maintaining the charade of normalcy seems to be the accepted approach. Maybe after another 5 years of waiting to turn the corner, folks will start to figure out that this situation isn't so temporary.

I don't think you can have inflation with such high unemployment numbers and I don't see that changing any time soon. If we were going to have inflation we would have it now and it would be noticeable...Also what do you think inflation would do to that all too important housing market say if interest rates were at %15...don't think it would look too great...We are between a rock and a hard place you can see it on Ben's face...Have you read any of the deflation arguments on Automatic Earth? They lay out a very good argument that we will not have inflation and why..

I agree that we are between a rock and a hard place. However, the money supply is being inflated to prevent asset deflation. This is occurring while wages are decreasing as a percentage of GDP. The net result is a lower standard of living. This can occur if wages increase 5% while costs increase 10% or can occur if wages are stagnate or decreasing while necessities and taxes are increasing by a couple percent.

Don't confuse hyperinflation with a slow grinding inflation in the cost of living. It will take many more years to monetize the losses in the system and recollateralize the banks thru ZIRP. Meanwhile, those with access to cheap money will be free to run up asset prices.

Yes but there will be fewer dollars chasing those goods and services...the only thing I see as inflated right now is the stock markets of the world...not only do you have wages decreasing soon you will have government decreasing its spending...take government spending out of GDP and what do you have...a giant ponzi scheme that can go on forever... here is a good interview with James Kunstler and Nicole Foss... I think she does a better job than I could ever... in it she says that we will see hyperinflation but only after massive deflation. http://theautomaticearth.com/Finance/the-automatic-earth-is-5-years-youn...

Listen to the wind - hear the published op-eds about how the COnstitution should just be replaced?

Part of "just replacing" means dissolving the present Government. If dissolved - so goes the liabilities, no?

Unfunded federal liabilities vastly exceed the current national debt.

We've promised to pay for people when they get old. That requires forcing younger people to provide work to do it.

Yeah... or save for it. You know, putting aside a little somtin' somtin' for the bad times, or pension. Do people in the US of A still do that anyway?

All you are putting away is paper promises, numbers on a ledger somewhere. When they retire we will still need workers todo any actual work (unless we've mastered robots). Sure you could save money, and buy up everything for the retirement plan. But, that ownership of the means to production is still just a paper promise on the future output of the people.

Savings can also take the form of paying off your house, (since this is TOD) investing in energy efficiency and possibly solar, prepaying a long term disability insurance plan, etc. Things that will reduce your cost of living in the future. Sure you will still need workers to do actual work but the difference is that you have deferred consumption today and in so doing have left a lower debt level for the workers of tomorrow to shoulder.

Ok, everything involving money contains some bit of speculating about the outcome, be it savings, stock, property etc. But what's the alternative? Speculate that the next generations will remain so generous to pay your pension?

I think that saving for your own pension is a better system then to have a shrinking working population to pay for a growing post-war group of pensioners. Although it is too late to change this, it should be wise for governments to think about this for the future.

In theory, that was what social security was: forcing people to save for their own pensions. It was supposed to be their own money they got back, not their children's.

They started out in a bit of a hole, because the first people to get social security had not paid in their whole lives. Social security was phased in over decades, with many people not required to pay in at first, but now eligible to get payments. And we also have the issue of raiding the lockbox. (There was a cartoon from FDR's time that shows Uncle Sam turning his empty pockets inside out when a worker who paid into the system his whole life tries to get his money back, as promised.)

But it doesn't have to be a goverment run 'system', a savings account specifically for pension would be quite safe, no?

I think the government would have to be involved. The amount most people would need for a comfortable retirement is much more than the FDIC insurance limit.

You would also have to keep people from spending it before retirement. IRAs and the like have rules and heavy penalties meant to encourage people not spend them before retirement age, but a lot of people spend them anyway.

Just looking at how IRAs and 401(k)s have failed, and you can see what the problems with savings accounts would be.

"I think the government would have to be involved."
Yes, but only to set the prerequisites specifically so that people can safely save for their retirement.

"but a lot of people spend them anyway."
Which is their problem in a free market non-socialist country like the US. But in a socialist country like NL we simply prevent people from doing that by not allowing them to get money from the pension savings account before retirement. Why should the whole system be built around young people paying the retirerees because some are not acting sensibly? There must be better ways to work around that. Anyway, my impression is that Americans in general have a problem managing their financials, reading about the excessive mortgages that started the banking crisis, maxing out multiple creditcards, etc.

"Just looking at how IRAs and 401(k)s have failed"
Sorry, I don't know anything about that.

Why should the whole system be built around young people paying the retirerees because some are not acting sensibly?

It's not, really. The idea was supposed to be that you get your own money back.

People are living longer than originally anticipated, and there's also the issue of the money being "borrowed" for other expenses, but mostly, social security is doing okay.

The real problem is not social security but Medicare. That's the program that's looking unsustainable.

Anyway, my impression is that Americans in general have a problem managing their financials, reading about the excessive mortgages that started the banking crisis, maxing out multiple creditcards, etc.

I don't think that's fair. Half of American credit card holders don't carry a balance, meaning they don't pay a cent of interest. I don't think we're worse than any other country. We're certainly not the only one to have a real estate bubble. Even notoriously frugal Japan had one of those.

"Just looking at how IRAs and 401(k)s have failed"
Sorry, I don't know anything about that.

"Investments" were encouraged because it's near impossible to save enough money for retirement. You have to play in the Wall St. casino to have a hope of getting enough money. But even that doesn't work for many.

The major reason for this, IMO, is health care costs. We have the highest medical costs in the world, and we don't have national health care to help pay it. Medical costs are the major reason Americans declare bankruptcy. They are also the reason we need so much money for retirement. It's not fancy vacations or golf club memberships driving up the cost, it's health care.

Thanks about explaining the problem about healthcare, I agree that it looks like a difficult problem and the only solution seems to me that it needs to become more realisticly priced perhaps there is a need to comprimize quality in order to allow the bulk of the population access.

The US could reduce physician pay - that's a big source of the problem.

OTOH, the US subsidizes medical research (especially drug development) for the rest of the world, so the comparisons are misleading.

Maybe, we should ask - what do we want out of an economy? Why is growing healthcare considered a bad thing, when growth in other parts of the economy is good??

How about fewer prisons and air force bases, and more health care centers?

The US could reduce physician pay - that's a big source of the problem.

You have got to be kidding. That's the least of the problem.

Physicians are being squeezed as much as their patients. In the 1960s, every mother wanted her son to be a doctor and her daughter to marry one. Now, the ticket to the good life is to work in finance or some such thing.

Now, you have HMOs strictly limiting compensation, setting rules on the amount of time doctors can spend with patients, etc. Litigation is a big worry, and insurance for it a big expense. Young doctors often emerge from medical school with six-figure debt. Sure, they're paid well compared to the average worker, but they're making less than they used to, even as health care costs have exploded for their patients.

Sure, they're paid well compared to the average worker, but they're making less than they used to


You're listening to the complaints of doctors, rather than looking at the statistics. Doctors have been complaining and "poor-mouthing" forever - even before Medicare & Medicaid dramatically increased their incomes.

Physician compensation is doing just fine, and their compensation is a big percentage of our national health bill.

Doctors and 3rd part payors are fighting a war over the pot of money, and patients are getting caught in the middle: doctors are unhappy with their per-patient reimbursement, so they're spending less time with patients in order to expand patient visit volumes, even as they over treat them with unnecessary, risky and expensive tests and procedures in order to expand their compensation (directly and indirectly - they place test equipment in their offices so they can grossly mark up the modest actual test & procedure cost, and they invest in free-standing and hospital based testing & surgical centers to reap the profits).

Show me the stats.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Doctors' Average Pay Fell 7% in 8 Years, Report Says

The Dr. Smiths are having trouble keeping up with the Mr. Joneses.

A report planned for release today indicates that the average physician's net income declined 7 percent from 1995 to 2003, after adjusting for inflation, while incomes of lawyers and other professionals rose by 7 percent during the period.

...Primary care doctors, who are already among the lowest-paid physicians, had the steepest decline in their inflation-adjusted earnings — a 10 percent drop — according to the report by the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonprofit research group in Washington.


That data is about 9 years old, and was based on a telephone survey of physicians. Telephone surveys are very hard to make reliable, especially for something like this ("has your income gone down? Oh yeah, things are terrible"), so I think it's just a suggestive data point, rather than good evidence.

Still, it's a starting point. I'll see if I can find something more definitive.

Young doctors often emerge from medical school with six-figure debt.

Failure of the education system - the (generally) unmentioned story. If we had a functioning educational system in the US then doctors wouldn't need the "Rock Star Doc" pay to be able to pay back those absurd loans. I know someone (from the US) that went to the UK for five years to become a doctor - because it was going to be cheaper than staying in the US.

the excessive mortgages that started the banking crisis

But in a socialist country like NL

I'm sorry, what? The Netherlands has one of the biggest property bubbles in history in progress. Just because yours hasn't completely blown up yet (much like ours here in Canada), doesn't mean you're actually doing things smarter than the US. In fact, your housing bubble seems to have exactly the same root cause as in the US.


I'm sorry but the housing bubble here is not caused by granting mortgages to people who can't really pay them and then cycle those mortgages throught the financial system.

The housing bubble in Canada is not caused by granting mortgages to people who cannot pay them or mortgage companies repackaging and reselling them. The practices that brought down the American banks and real estate system are illegal in Canada. None of the Canadian banks went bankrupt, and the mortgage default rates have gone down to historically low levels. In addition the Canadian government is tightening the screws on the commercial lenders and making it even harder for people to get mortgages.

The high prices are caused by the fact that the Canadian economy is much stronger than the US or European economies - it did not experience nearly as severe downturn and recovered much quicker. It is really demand pull - too much money chasing too few houses.

that was what social security was: forcing people to save for their own pensions. It was supposed to be their own money they got back, not their children's.

I don't think it was ever really intended to be a savings program - I believe the designers of the system always considered it a simple inter-generational transfer. The payroll tax basis for eligibility (which funds current recipients) creates the impression of a savings program, as did the unfortunate bubble of money in the "lockbox".

"repetitive-loss" =200M?

Does that mean only properties that have been payed on before? And first time claims are in addition to that?

Iraq’s flood of ‘cheap oil’ could rock world markets

“Iraq has a potential as a game-changer”...

Iraq is perhaps the only country left in the world that has huge stores of what insiders call “cheap oil” — untapped reserves that can be extracted through relatively inexpensive, traditional drilling techniques...

In fact, the IEA is projecting that most of Iraq’s oil production — which Iraq’s leaders hope will top Saudi Arabia’s 11 million barrels a day at 13.5 million barrels eventually...

13.5 mb/d! That is absurd. Even Iraq has come off their hope of 12 mb/d, way off.

Lukoil Pares Iraq Oil-Output Target; Others Talk on Similar Cuts

Iraq initially set a long-term goal of pumping 12 million barrels a day. Political tensions and violence have slowed its recovery, and the government has since decreased its overall target to levels ranging from 6 million to 10 million barrels a day.

And the list goes on:

Iraq 'in talks on production cuts'

I could post perhaps a dozen such articles that have come out in the last few months, including by Forbes that says:

Put all that together, and Iraq will struggle to nudge output towards 4mb/d over the next few years, let alone hitting 5, 6, or 7mb/d over the next decade.

Bottom line, Iraq is not a game changer, not even close to becoming one.

Ron P.

I read somewhere Iraq's oil comes from the same geological formations that produces the Iranian oil at that side of the border. Does Iran reach these levels of oil production? First google hit gave me this article from 2011:
Looks like a no.

The same page on Iraq:

1 map and 2 diagrams down from the top we learn that of these 13.5 million barrels a day, 10 are supposed to come from the south sector:


I remain sceptic.

(PS: How do I format the IMG tag to show the picture directly instead of the link?)

(PS: How do I format the IMG tag to show the picture directly instead of the link?)

Click on the TOD FAQs, scroll down to: 'Commenting on stories', item 3. 'How do I include an image in my comment?' gives you an explanation and an example of the HTML code you need to use.

If you already have an online image storage account such as Photobucket all you have to do is copy the provided HTML code and paste it into the text of your post.

Make sure you use photo editing software to reduce the file size of your image to the minimum possible if you want to keep Leanan happy! >;-)



So it is plain HTML code, no special ones for this site. Okey.

Under cap-and-trade, flying is greener than taking the bus

Under so-called "cap and trade" schemes designed to reduce carbon emissions, individuals will actually be acting more green-righteously by taking the plane rather than the bus, according to new research.

Dr Grischa Perino of the University of East Anglia uses the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) - a typical cap-and-trade scheme - as an example. Under the ETS, emissions by one company can be offset by another. Firms that hold more emission allowances than they need can sell these to other firms, which in turn use them to increase their own emissions. The overall cap within which the allowances are set is lower than emissions otherwise would be, and thus total emissions are reduced.

The problem is that only industries judged to be high-carbon, such as aviation and electricity generation, are included. Road transport, for instance, is not.

"If you consider making a trip from London to Glasgow, flying has higher physical [carbon] emissions than a coach journey," explains Dr Perino.

"However, additional emissions of flights are fully offset by the EU ETS, even without buying the offsets offered by most airlines when buying tickets, while those of the coach are not and therefore are additional. Surprising as it may sound, going by coach increases total emissions more than flying.”

In short, the environmentally concerned consumer must not only know the relative carbon intensity of various products and services, but also how much each provider has compensated for carbon emissions through the cap and trade scheme.

New Mexico Utility Agrees To Purchase Solar Power At A Lower Price Than Coal
The latest evidence of solar power’s rise comes via Bloomberg: El Paso Electric Co., a southwestern utility, has agreed to purchase electricity from a New Mexico solar project owned by the solar panel manufacturer First Solar, for a price lower than the going rate for coal:

First Solar bought the 50-megawatt Macho Springs project from Element Power Solar, according to a statement yesterday. El Paso Electric Co. (EE) agreed to buy the power for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to a Jan. 22 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

That’s less than half the 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour average price for new coal plants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Thin-film photovoltaic power typically sells for 16.3 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.


First Solar bought the 50-megawatt Macho Springs project from Element Power Solar, according to a statement yesterday. El Paso Electric Co. (EE) agreed to buy the power for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to a Jan. 22 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

Does this remind anybody here of Oyster Creek?

Updated atomic comic.

Ugh. Too true, I'm afraid.

We're going to go down to visit some friends in AZ this weekend. He has built out a lot of the structural work for a number of large scale solar projects in his and the surrounding states. He has some pretty good insights into the costs, and I'll just say it ain't pretty.

This does not remind me of ridiculous claims for nuclear power which included promises that it would be too cheap to meter. Calculating the costs of constructing of solar has far less uncertainties and risks and is far more straightforward. And then there is the issue of pricing in nuclear wastes forever that should be added to the Kwh costs.

This price that FSLR is charging is low and I doubt if it includes the full costs of the plant in question. However, from the skimpy details available thus far, we don't know what subsidies and credit were used in this calculation to make it potentially profitable for FSLR.

t - ridiculous claims just seem part of the entire package we get these days, no matter the energy source. TOD is a pretty good place to try to separate the wheat from the chaff.

To be fair to the solar side, the projects I mentioned were largely undertaken when the costs of panels were considerably higher. But that's just part of the economics, of course. The fact that the panels were much more expensive then can't be removed from the costs of the projects today, unfortunately. With any luck the projects will produce useful energy for a very long time, and there will ultimately be a decent ROI.

I commented, er, downthread, I think, on the waste issue for nuclear. I wouldn't mind chiming in that following a number of current large-scale nuclear projects is just flat-out disheartening. Cost overruns, botched engineering, government meddling, you name it. It's not encouraging.

According to Wikipedia, the costs per watt for First Solar is 73 cents per watt. Using a model for balance of system costs for a home system would indicate that this might actually work assuming a production tax credit and subsidies per Kwh coming from New Mexico. The balance of system costs for a small home system should be higher per watt, so this makes it even more likely that First Solar won't be taking a loss. But as the various articles on the web say, we don't yet no the actual financial arrangements, credits, and subsidies behind this deal.

In any event, this is different than GE promising X dollars for a nuclear plant and then running into large overruns later, not to mention the operating costs, and storage costs that never get fully costed out.

Of course there is also the issue that nuclear is way more complicated than putting together a field of solar panels.

As you say, we don't get to know the details. Not disagreeing with you solar is considerably less complex than nuclear. From my reading I think solar makes a lot of sense, at current price points, for small-scale rooftop installations. Going to look into it myself, probably this summer. Having come late to the energy epiphany going to do some more mundane things first - an energy audit and quite a bit more insulation, for starters. Strongly suspect a bunch of simple chalking will be in order too.

I'll look up and post a link to a physics prof (Brit, I think), who lectured at MIT a while back. Be interested in your thoughts on how he runs the numbers. Will look it up later tonight.

Found it. Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air with David MacKay. Thought this was a pretty easy to understand explanation of the big picture options. It's a bit long, and a bit outdated, but I think the main points are still relevant.

Right now you can buy a residential solar PV system in California with a 30 year cost for electricity of <$0.05/kwh. Includes cost of inverter replacement. After 30 years your electricity, in this analysis, is free.

got2surf - hadn't made it that far - in terms of those sorts of calculations. But I'll get there eventually. I do know of a guy in our subdivision (northern suburbs of Chicago) who put in a full PV configuration, soup to nuts. Cost him about $40k at the time (I'd say it was at least four years ago, mebbe five). Haven't had a chance to talk with him about it at length, but I will.

There appear to be some cost-sharing options available too, from companies that basically do the installation and maintenance for you, and you share that cost in some fashion. I'll look at those too. As I mentioned, I think insulation and chalking will be the first steps. Much cheaper, too! :)

Not trying to sell you a system! Mainly backing up Wharf Rat's observation about coal vs solar costs.

Time value of money, discount rate, or whatever you call that, makes the comparison less relevant. Nevertheless, grid parity is here, folks.

PV panel prices are 1/4th of what they were four or so years ago...

Avoid like the plague, resist at all costs, the no money down solar leases! All the fraudsters that couldn't make it in banking are now selling no money down solar. That's a bit strong, but really, it's the absolute worst way to go solar.

Can you elaborate?

The Solar City, Sun Run, and Sungevity's of the world will lock you in to a 20 year contract. If your bill is not high enough they won't accept you as a client. They take about 85% of your future savings. By the time the contract ends, you will have paid for the system several times over. They take the tax credit and the rebate and the REC's.

Beware of the escalator, where your monthly lease payment goes up a little each year. The contracts are designed to keep your lease payments just below your avoided PG&E expense. They leave the lower tier usage on your bill for you to pay. When lower tier electricity goes up in cost, your bill from PG&E will rise, along with your escalating lease payment.

Any corner bank will beat lease financing. Charging a system on your credit card and making minimum payments is about comparable to a no money down solar lease. You can not buy out early. If you wish to sell your house, the buyer must agree to be saddled with this liability, or else you must pay in full before you can sell.

Late update: Email just came thru saying all presently pending and future leases (with this one unnamed outfit) are on hold "until new funding can be secured". Another good reason to avoid them. Staying 1/2 step ahead of the IRS while chasing money doesn't seem very secure.

I suspect he's assuming a zero discount rate. That just wouldn't cut it in bean counter land. And panel degradation is typically assumed to be .5% per year. Loans from Solar Mosaic cost the borrower 5.5%, and I bet you can't come close to that from a bank.

Interesting GreenTechMedia had a graph of best in class solar module manufacturing costs, including projections, from 2009-2015. They pegged 2012 @.57, and $.48 for this year, dropping to $.42 for 2015. 2009 was $1.29. So if this is to be believed, the rate of improvement of module prices is going to slow, but still be decent. But that's just as we would expect, the learning curve can only carry you so far, then further improvement gets harder and harder. Not at all sure FSLRs CaTe tech has a future, some people are afraid of the toxicity of Cadmium (I heard Japan won't allow it at all), and if cSi is actually the same or lower cost, the interest in CdTe might evaporate. Same thing I suspect with CPV (Concentrating PV), if modules are cheaper than mirrors or other optics, why mess with concentration.

Same thing I suspect with CPV (Concentrating PV), if modules are cheaper than mirrors or other optics, why mess with concentration.

History is littered with the dead of CPV. Midway Labs, Energy Innovations, and perhaps p3v.

Why is natural gas in North America so cheap? Granted it is up a fair bit (at least in percentage terms) from where it was in the recent past.

Is it cheap because oil is expensive - that chasing after oil is in effect subsidizing gas production? Because a flood of money for gas drilling (whether ongoing or from several years ago) has encouraged drilling at a loss? Because the North American economy is still struggling? Something else entirely? Is Art Berman the guy to listen to?

It is difficult to interest people in energy efficiency etc. with gas so cheap. People will agree that insulating their attic is a good thing to do. But usually they don't actually insulate their attic.

p - I sell my NG for the price the buyers offer me. I either sell it at that price or shut my well in. During the summer I did cut back on production some because I could handle the lower cash flow. many producers couldn't. And the price I net isn't what the buyers pay for the NG: I have to pay pipelines a tarrif to get my NG to the buyer. Last April Henry Hub prices were around $2.05/mcf. But I netted $1.65 because I had to pay a $0.40/mcf fee to a ppeline to get it there. The folks with NG on HH sell it to users such as utilities and other end users. That price is negotiable to some extet but there is a limit to what a buyer will pay because there are multiple sources in some cases. In other cases the utilities know they can only charge users so much before they destroy demand and reduce their cash flow.

That's just a longer and more detailed way of saying: supply and demand

Gas prices are cyclic because when supply is tight gas companies over compensate by drilling too many wells. At the present time there is no way to export natural gas from North America so if too much gas comes onto the market it drives down the price.

This is likely going to be the last time that natural gas is relatively inexpensive as there are projects to build gas export terminals in both Canada and the US. Once there is the ability to export gas we can expect prices to be more closely linked to the world price for gas. Improving the insulation in your home right now may not provide a big payoff but in the long run it will be a smart move.

This cycle may have been somewhat exasperated by the availability of cheap financing. Another unintended consequence of ZIRP.

Simple markets with delays (like single predator/prey ecosystems) are as likely to have continuous cycling as to flatten to a stable point. Since there's a bunch of delays built into the natural gas production response to high prices, we can still be in the overproduction phase following the boom from 2007.

People don't appreciate the work OPEC has done in keeping the oil market stable. When we go into the next gas shortage cycle with no similar management, we still won't hear sny suggestion of doing something to keep the market smooth. It's heresy to admit that sometimes the Invisible Hand has tremors.

Shorter Rockman: There is a glut.

So cheap, sadly, that you can see all the flaring of gas from oil wells from space.

The US is a net importer of NG - hardly a glut. My guess is that a lot of the flaring has to do with NG being a byproduct of more highly valued oil/NGLs, and a lack of infrastructure to bring it to market. (And pipelines are long life assets so you only build them if you think you'll have enough gas to fill them for the life of the pipeline, which can be 20+ years. (and that lack of infrastrucutre may be an effect of (anticipated)decline rates).

Glut may not be the right semantics but the increase in supply has clearly caused the price of the natural gas to come down regardless of the fact that we are a net importer.

Yes, flaring unfortunately is a rational response to pricing and the inability to get it to the distribution system but it tragic nevertheless when CO2 is being emitted without any direct benefit.

In a bit of a perverted way one can argue that flaring NG at least has the benefit of not increasing societal dependency on NG. Perhaps a bit twisted.....

This would be a good reason for a 'carbon tax'. Make people pay to flare. That may cause them to think twice about just wasting natural gas. Of course, there is a compliance issue here. How can one monitor such flaring? And instead of flaring, some may instead just quietly vent the methane which is much worse than flaring.

spec - Zero compliance problem with any flaring or venting. Operators are required to submit certified well tests that show exactly how much NG is produced with the oil. Too much NG and the state doesn't issue a production order and the company doesn't get produce the well. And if they did any way they couldn't sell the oil: no one would buy it if they didn't have a certified production order on the well. Oil has a title on it just like your house or car. And just like those properties you can't sell the oil without a clear title. There is an entire third party segment of the oil patch that does nothing but run title on all oil/NG production.

So you see they wouldn't even have to send inspectors into the field to monitor compliance. A lot of folks still don’t appreciate how closely the oil patch is regulated and monitored. If the various govts don’t want flaring/venting it just won’t happen. We tend to be very good at following the rules. Rules made up by politicians who are elected by the people.

It will be interesting to watch what happens if San Antonio goes into non-compliance with the federal EPA regulations on ground-level ozone this summer (they're awfully close to the line), and if the local governments around the city blame the increased ozone precursors produced by the large diesel engines and flaring in the Eagle Ford activity for pushing the metro area over the line.

The last time the ozone limits were tightened, Front Range Colorado was pretty obviously going to be in violation (we have all the problems most areas have, plus that pesky altitude thing). Testing leading up to a state-developed remediation plan showed that the oil and gas drilling in the state were releasing a lot more ozone precursors than anyone thought (much of it due to sloppy practices). The drillers are still screaming about the tightened state regulations, but none of them seem to have gone through with their threats to abandon the state.

The Republicans in the Colorado state legislature finally got on board with a state plan for those tightened regulations once they realized that their choices were (a) provide the support necessary to pass a state plan, where they had some say, or (b) block any state plan and watch while the federal EPA wrote a plan for them.

[Edit to split the ungainly first paragraph.]

Not recycling the useful stuff in garbage is the same thing as flaring NG. If someone can figure out a way of making a decent profit without too much trouble, they'll do it. And if they can't, they won't.

So true. Quite a wide area of flaring, right at the Canada/N.Dakota border.



Apparently the drillers are going after wet natural gas wells because natural gas condensate is fetching a high price (because it is refined into gasoline which has a high price) effectively subsidizing the low price and overproduction of methane. The NGL's, butane and propane, are also fetching a high price.

U.S. Lease Condensate Production and U.S. Gas Plant Production of Natural Gas Liquids and Liquid Refinery Gases, from EIA in Mb/year:

year:   2005 	2006 	2007 	2008 	2009 	2010 	2011
cond.	174 	182 	181 	173 	178 	224
NGL's	627 	635 	651 	653 	697 	757 	809

From 2008 to 2011 the production of NGL in the U.S. increased by 427 kb/d or 24% compared to natural gas which increased by 11% (25,636,257 Mcf to 28,479,026 Mcf). Notice production from shale gas wells increased from 2,869,960 Mcf in 2008 to 8,500,983 Mcf in 2011 while the production from gas wells decreased from 15,134,644 Mcf in 2008 to 12,291,070 Mcf in 2011. Vented and flared only increased a little from 166,909 Mcf to 209,439 Mcf, so most of the NG from shale plays is being collected. The high price of crude oil is subsidizing the low price and creating a glut of methane.

Apparently the drillers are going after wet natural gas wells because natural gas condensate is fetching a high price (because it is refined into gasoline which has a high price) effectively subsidizing the low price and overproduction of methane.

Gasoline and diesel have clearly become the highly-valued energy products that are distorting the market. We now flare off lots of natural gas in places w/o pipeline because we just want that oil for gasoline/diesel. We burn up cheap natural gas to melt tar sands in SAGD operations to get that valuable oil for gasoline/diesel. NG drillers are focusing wet gas because the condensates can be used in gasoline/diesel. We are building multi-billion dollar gas-to-liquid plants to create gasoline/diesel from methane.

Gee . . . if only there were another way to power automobiles. ;-)

Yes but won't there come a time in the near future when there is a low supply of natural gas because of its price and the send prices soaring again?

If someone is keeping a moron's guide to economics and energy then this quote deserves to go in.

Some background: here in the UK, Cumbria council recently voted against constructing a long-term nuclear waste storage facility. Despite the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria is apparently also blessed with very stable and solid geology - ideal for storing nuclear waste with a gazillion year half-life. The upshot of this particularly annoying display of local democracy is that the UK still has no where to bung her nuclear excrement and the stash at Sellafield just keeps on getting bigger and more costly (as linked above). The last 50 years of radioactive jelly has not been dealt with which is rather embarrassing when the government is attempting to sell a new program of nuclear power stations to, not only the public, but also the power companies.

So onto this quote, taken from the BBC news website today. It is by an MP who happens to be the chair of the public accounts committee:

"[Cumbria] is an area of considerable deprivation with high unemployment. We are looking for there to be clearer ambition that spending on this huge scale contributes to creating jobs and supports sustainable growth in the region and the UK," said Mrs Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking and former minister"

If ever one needs an example of just how stupid a measurement of 'wealth' and 'progress' GDP is, this surely takes the biscuit. Never mind that she has put the words 'sustainable' and 'growth' next to each other, the sheer dumb idiotic lunacy which is implied is that being in possession of a toxic lethal cocktail of radioactive garbage is a good thing and a cause for celebration as it will mean jobs and economic growth will arise as a result of the necessity of dealing with it. Bring on the radioactive waste! So now you see, contrary to being a nasty expensive burden on the country said toxic radioactive waste is suddenly transformed into the saviour of Cumbria and the bringer of economic activity. Talk about mis-allocation of capital.

How about give all the Cumbria jobless people a baseball bat and free reign to smash all the car windows they can. The local glass factory will pick up a tonne of work and another notch of GDP will be achieved.

Idiot humans.

This is a trend I've noticed with UK politicians of all hues: few talk about "growth" anymore, they talk about "sustainable growth", irrespective of the fact that the phrase is itself oxymoronic, and whether or not the underlying cause of the "growth" might be viewed as an investment in sustainability.

Edit: it strikes me that cancerous growths appear to be sustainable (from the cancer's perspective) right up until the point that the growth kills the host.... a parable of sorts...

Yes, the term "sustainable growth" is certainly an oxymoron. In regards to nuclear waste, if we can expect zero or negative economic growth in the future that would seem to make it even more imperative that something be done now about nuclear waste. Deep geological burial would seem to be the best solution available to us.

Maybe true. The point I am making is that the real wealth of the country is substantially decreased because we have to allocate massive resources to this problem. The allocation - jobs, economic activity - is not in anyway adding real wealth to the country. It is a mis-allocation of capital. Cheering it on as 'growth' is just stupid. The same way that planned obsolescence is not adding real wealth. Which is better, in reality: having to replace your saucepans every year because the handles fall off or a set of expensive solid Le Creuset iron pans which will last a lifetime? The former will book a boost to GDP every year as you replace them, the latter will generate a larger boost to GDP upfront but then never again.

If this MP had her way we would be all forced to renew our saucepans every year to boost sustainable (sic) growth. Maybe we could cook some nuclear soup up for lunch too. Then the health service will have to treat us for radioactivity poisoning and that will also add to GDP. And when we kick the bucket the undertaker's bill will likewise point to signs of 'recovery'.

Memo to humans: stop being idiots. If we were all sufficiently provided for last year, let's just do the same this year and be happy. Stop trying to grow. It is just childish. (!)

Already posted on the whole wealth concept below. But at the risk of getting this post deleted I'll chime in that I'm not convinced deep burial of wastes is the way to go. While it is true that our most recent, large-scale attempts to reprocess the waste have been highly problematic, I think it would be wise to go back to the drawing board. Some small scale demonstration projects, probably within the academic community, to perfect thorium-based reactors that theoretically could consume the waste.

It would take some effort, but it seems technically feasible. It just seems to me a more ethical approach - let's take care of it now if we can, instead of kicking the can down the street to generations unborn.

And I'm with Blue Peter, below. I've been following it, and it does look like the geology is just not right for this sort of storage. Any of the regulars have any geologic knowledge of the area under discussion?

"...let's take care of it now if we can, instead of kicking the can down the street to generations unborn."

...problem being that there is no 'we' or 'us' in the matter of nuclear waste disposal. There's a clusterf*** of power sellers, nuclear lobbies, govt. rascals, and millions of consumers who write a check every month (or whatever) and go about their business.

Until the nuclear industry and their elected fellows get their collective **** together, 'we' need to stop producing stuff 'we' have no clue about dealing with, stuff that will out live 'us' many times over.

Ghung - not debating you on the numerous rascals you site. They are many, varied, and of various levels of toxicity themselves. I think you see what I'm driving at, though. We've inherited a mess, on many levels.

We can attempt to deal with them, or we can punt. Being of a libertarian bent, I tend to think we can take control of our processes if we wish. Do we wish to? I don't have an answer to that question. There are a LOT of people out there. Every time I watch someone switch on American Idol I despair of our ever being able to tackle any of the existential threats we face.

I tend to think we can take control of our processes if we wish.

And yet, something as simple as not having sleeping security guards at the atom smashing and electroium plant did not correct the sleeping guard problem until the worker who reported it posted the guard checking his eyelids for holes on U-tube.

Exactly how does one claim 'process works!' when something as simple as a non-sleeping guard can not be corrected?

You don't have to have thorium to get rid of nuclear waste, fast breeder reactors will do that. You CAN get rid of plutonium using thorium, but that makes a critical path. You would have to develop it to get to the next goal.

There may be a GE PRISM fast breeder built in the U.S. to reprocess spent fuel and use the plutonium. When you cycle it through a few times it produces products that have a half life of 200 years, not 20,000.

fast breeder reactors will do that.

And yet, due to fires and other non-fuctionality issues, this commonly repeated refrain of fast breeder reactors will do that just ain't true.

You can use plutonium in MOX fuel, you don't have to put it in the ground for 200,000 years. I hear lots of criticism but few solutions. It may be time for a few solutions.

Yup, just like gen II was a solution to gen I?

Agreed! The problem exists whether we want it or not and is independent of how we move forward with renewables vs nuclear power. Reducing the toxicity of existing nuclear waste is a desirable goal in and of itself.

We have lots of spent fuel rods at lots of nuclear reactors. Putting all those in Nevada for longer than the pyramids does not seem realistic. Turning 220,000 year plutonium into 200 year elements makes much more sense. No amount of wind turbines is going to get rid of the plutonium.

I hear lots of criticism but few solutions. It may be time for a few solutions.

If one doesn't make the material, one does not need a way to unmake it.

Especially when the solution offered was one that has a demonstrated history of failure.

With failures that you don't need to be a Atom-splitting PHD holder.....sleeping security guards.

The spent fuel has already been made over decades. Only 3% of the energy was used and now we have the chance to use 90% of the energy rather than put it in the ground. Plutonium has a half life of 24,000 years, we have a chance to use it as fuel and leave elements that have a half life of 200 years.

We can power the U.S. for more than 100 years on the plutonium and U238 in the spent fuel and leave only short lived radioactive elements, or we can throw all of that useful energy in the ground and hope we can secure it for thousands of year. I know which option I would choose and I hope most rational people would as well.

In theory a IFR sounds great for burning up the waste stockpile. Not talking about technical issues or safety issues of running yet another reactor, do you think the nuclear industry is going to accept that a few IFR's are going to be built to clean up the waste and that's it: no more? Ofcourse not. When the IFR's run then they are an excuse to keep the old reactors going because their waste can be cleaned up. They are never going to shutdown the IFR's when the waste stockpile is gone. There will always be reasons to want to build more and new ones. That way we'll never get rid of this dangerous industry. That is my problem with this industry: in theory it all sounds great, but in practice the world does not conform to theory.

A very good point. As you imply it is the same with care of ill-health. Instead of it being a cost, big, big cost, which we all have to pay for collectively because who knows who is next, the trick is to turn it into a profit growth centre. Hey presto; 'we' (?) get better off, more efficient, etc.! Aargh!

Take a look at this thread: http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22398

The conclusion seems to be that Cumbrian geology is not suitable, and therefore it is the right decison,


This insanity has been going on since the growth of the concept of GDP and the presumed ability was developed to measure it. As Herman Daly points out, GDP is throughput, not wealth. It is not a measure of well being and in fact for many instances of GDP it has a negative correlation to well being. From our personal experience, we know better. When the house is flooded because of a broken pipe, we don't celebrate the fact that our personal expenditures will go up just to make us whole. Our expenditures merely bring us to the level of well being that existed prior to the expenditure.

The problem of course is that GDP treats all expenditures equally. It fails to differentiate between maintenance or disaster expenditures and those expenditures that actually increase our stock of wealth or actually contribute to our well being or the well being of the planet.

As you allude to, under the guise of increasing GDP growth, crime is a positive thing and should be encouraged, the bigger and more disastrous crimes the better.

Agreed. Somewhere along the line creating demand became the sole goal. It'd be easy to blame it on Keynes, but he was actually a more subtle thinker than a lot of the folks who parrot him these days.

A lot of folks could use an Econ 101 course on what wealth is. Ain't gonna happen, or if it did the definition would somehow wind up back with demand and dollars. But what the heck. We can dream can't we?

GDP is an incomestatement term, not a balance sheet term.

How about give all the Cumbria jobless people a baseball bat and free reign to smash all the car windows they can. The local glass factory will pick up a tonne of work and another notch of GDP will be achieved.

Idiot humans.

Well, in my opinion taking care of nuclear waste instead of letting it lie around is far, far less idiotic than your idea. After all it's actually beneficial that nuclear waste be taken care of.

The government caring about people and communities they rule over who lack jobs seems nice to me too.

Murkowsky is live on C-span right now.


Interesting mix of thoughts..

Some good on Efficiency Initiatives..

..But definitely she's opposed to Carbon Taxes or Cap/Trade. I don't prefer the latter of those, either, but just the idea that consciously making FF energy more expensive is completely anathema to her.

Oil industry insiders divided over longevity, (feasibility) of shale play

Not all shale fields are the same, but it remains to be seen how long they produce. I am betting they will not produce as long as they are hoping.

Extract from Marine Engineering by A F Tompkins

Published in 1921

Shale Oils
In Scotland, particularly near Edinburgh, in Australasia, and elsewhere, lighting paraffin and other fuel oils are obtained by distillation from oil shale. Their chemical composition and other characteristics are similar to oils distilled from petroleum. Scotch shale also produces about 12.5 per cent of paraffin wax, which is made into candles or used for other purposes. About 21 to 22 lbs of sulphate of ammonia are produced from 1 ton of shale.

So oil from shale is not a new industry!


The Scottish shale oil industry has an interesting and significant history.

Bathgate works, established in 1851, was perhaps the first site in the world where mineral oils were processed on an industrial scale. From this blossomed an extensive oil industry that competed successfully against cheaper imported petroleum for many years, and continued in operation until 1962.

Yes, the shale 'bings' were a large scale feature of the landscape when I first worked in Scotland in 1970. Relatively non-toxic waste compared with coal bings so they greened over in places. Somebody found a use for the waste as hard-core (roads?) in 1980s and the bings mostly are gone now. (Dragged away by large diesel 'movers').

In the early days the shale oil competed well with whale oil and then survived the conversion of growing cities to piped 'town gas' from coal for lighting, followed by electrification. There were plenty of lamps still around though. Could not compete with the advent of the real Age of Oil coming in the 1960s, and anyway most of the easy stuff had been mined by then. Been there and done it, it seems.

I'll point out again that the shale production isn't coming from "fields" per se. But there's no official definition of a "field". The generally accept definition in the oil patch would be an area from which production is from reservoirs with delineated limits. But that requires a definition of “reservoir”. Which is generally thought of as a continuous section of rock that contains hydrocarbons. And that’s where the distinction between conventional and unconventional reservoirs splits. Fields such as Ghawar and every other conventional field are easy to define: you drill until you find the limits of the reservoir rock that’s producing. Typically a very sharp line on a map. I’m about to drill hz wells to recover residual oil in a trend of certain Frio fields. Frio is the name of a formation just as Eagle Ford is. The Frio trend has a decrete number of fields in it easily depicted by where wells are producing from clearly defined areas.

But you won’t see such in the Eagle Ford Shale “Field”. In fact, the TRRC doesn’t even recognize the trend as a single field. There are more than a dozen EFS fields with different names. And even those aren’t fields per se but just different geographical areas. IOW X Field shares a common boundary line with the Y Field both of which produce from the EFS. And such an EFS "field" never really depletes. Just wells producing in that geographic area deplete. For instance 40 wells in the X Field are drilled, produced, deplete and are plugged and abandoned. But 5 years later someone completes a well in the same EFS "field" in a set of fractures that the previous wells didn’t drain. The new well produces just a good (or even better) than the original 40 wells. So was the field depleted? Or did the wells drilled in that geographically defined area deplete?

In that sense no EFS or any other shale “field” depletes as long as there’s one more location to drill. If oil prices crashed tomorrow and all EFS drilling stopped and all those wells deplete over time are any of those EFS “fields” depleted? If prices pick up all those undrilled locations could again restore production to those “fields”. But there is a finite geographic limit to every shale play. There will come a time when there are no more locations left to drill in a trend. A current example was reported a few weeks ago where a well tested an area where the Bakken was assumed to be a commercial extension of the TREND. Not only was the well not commercial but Bakken reservoir isn’t even present in this area. Just as all fields have finite limits so do all trends.

I think the link is broken. I guess you are talking about this

Found this at neven's blog

Here's an image from the comments http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/data/satellite/hrpt_dfo_ir_100.jpg. Look to the diagonal crack on the left side of the image. Is that a glacier ? It looks like sea ice to me.

I also found this
It's a comparison of Methane concentrations from 2009 to 2013 during the period 21-31 Jan. Anyone else think that this is alarming ??

Here's the original source where I got the image

Above image shows dramatic increases of methane levels above the Arctic Ocean in the course of January 2013 in a large area north of Norway.

Why are these high levels of methane showing up there? To further examine this, let's have a look at where the highest sea ice concentrations are. The image below shows sea ice concentrations for January 2013, from the National Snow and Ice data Center (NSIDC).

I sought the opinion of folks at RealClimate, if anyone has any other insights please post it.


The scientists who flew over vast areas of ice last year were alarmed because whenever there was a crack in the ice-cap there was methane increase that their instruments attached to the aircraft could detect.

Other scientists found giant plumes of bubbling methane that was coming from the ocean floor.

Their surmisings at the moment are that the melting of the ice caps allows the water to absorb sunlight then distribute the heat, which warms the ocean floor enough to cause more warming and methane release.

Blowback is the single word that comes to mind.

Thanks for the links.

I'm sure there is a technofix for this. Like covering the poles with white honeycomb Platinum cat-ill'ists.

I await the technofix solution with more details to be placed up on the Internet soon.

I can now reveal my solution to the Arctic methane problem.

Behold the Sparker Buoy (TM).

Mass produced and tossed overboard to float freely in the ocean, they spark continuously, converting any local methane concentrations to less harmful CO2.

An inertial generator harvest wave motion to provide power, and GPS tells when a buoy is stranded or drifting away. It can be recovered and recycled.

Brilliant, it has a built in growth model. The more you use the more you need. I want in on the IPO. ;)

"The more you use the more you need". Kinda like cigarettes and they make smoke too.

Can you build a self replicating version?

Gotta love the design of the sparker buoy. Maybe the defense dept. can make them for a billion dollars each and it will become the patriotic thing to encourage fossil fuel burning to increase the temperature in the Arctic so more methane releases, so we can fight a war against methane getting into the atmosphere. People will buy bonds to help the methane war effort. Now we'll also need sparker buoy webcams so people can cheer when a methane plume is ignited.

Just wait until the Orcas figure out they can use them to taser seals.


The spiritual solution is for oil patchers to become bishops:

As a former student of elite Eton College – just like the current prime minister and generations of other senior figures in British public life – the new Archbishop of Canterbury comes with some impeccable establishment credentials.

Born in London in 1956, Justin Portal Welby studied law and history at Trinity College, in Cambridge, England, after the initial schooling that made him an "Old Etonian."


A career in the oil industry beckoned and he spent 11 years in the sector as a senior executive, based in Paris and London. He worked on projects in the North Sea and the Niger Delta,

(Who is new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby?)

if anyone has any other insights please post it

I'm not even sure insights are needed as the overlayment of methane releasing and open waters lines up seamlessly. That one link is probably the most damning evidence I've seen so far that we are up a creek without a paddle. The trend is less ice volume and lower ice extent, with ever more methane releasing it will just get worse from here. Not sure how this cannot set off alarm bells worldwide, but alas the lower latitudes most often do not suggest anything too outrageous so complacency replaces any kind of call to action and the political winds simply wait for the next tipping point to ignore. Got a feeling this will play out pretty fast over the next few years as methane releases should accelerate quite fast, and it will reach a point where we either try to do something or ignore runaway GW.

Here is Gavin's (RealClimate) comment to my question

[Response: It's interesting, but the near one-to-one correspondence between methane and the ice outline and coasts sends a bit of warning message related to the satellite retrieval. I think these images come from spectral analysis of the reflected Near-IR, and that means the strength of the signal will be different over ice and water and land. Additionally, if this was related to warm water and methane hydrates, you wouldn't see it in January, you'd see it in August. It is plausible that this is an impact of gas/oil extraction and transport (which increases in winter), but this would need some checking. - gavin

He's being cautious and no doubt oil exploration is one possibility but my own take is that the chances of that are very small because arctic oil drilling is not so advanced right now and that image covers a vast region of ocean.

Yeah, I agree, he's being very cautious but there is always conservative, discounting, denial reactions to initial information of this magnitude. To put the blame on exploration belies the fact methane releases are matching up to open spaces of water. On the question of why methane would be releasing in Jan. instead of the Summer I have no idea, except maybe its a continuation or a delayed reaction? However its not the first time I've seen satellite photos of methane releases in January. For some reason that is not unusual, however I want to dig into that further to find out why. It does pose an interesting question, but for goodness sakes are we really suppose discount such a clearly concise overlayment?

I think Gavin knows what he is talking about. Chances are they haven't yet figured out how to isolate the satellite methane signature completely from the underlying terrain, so artifacts appear in the data. And his statement about seasonality strikes me as pretty convincing that this isn't the clathrate disintegration bomb going off.

You're more easily convinced than I. Did you actually look at Wiseindian's link showing the overlayment of methane releasing and open arctic waters? It's seamless. As far as a cathrate disintegration bomb, well that is your wording not mine. We shall see, but the other link wiseindian has showing years 2009 to 2013 with methane releases increasing is very startling. Do you see a trend there?

Here is a description of the kinetics of Methane Clathrate

The activation energy of Methane Clathrate is 323 kJ/mole or 3.35 eV

That means that reaction rates are highly temperature sensitive, and it helps explain why the stuff needs to stay buried in very cold water, encased in a good heat sink.
With that high an activation energy, even a 1C change in the ambient temperature will increase the reaction rate kinetics by 50%. A change of 20C will increase the rate by a factor of 10,000. If there are volcanic vents near the ocean floor, that would dissociate the local clathrate deposits quickly.

Wolfram Alpha activation energy rate calculator

That high activation energy is why it is considered a tipping point. By comparison CO2 has a solubility energy of on;y 0.2 to 0.3 eV.

I have asked for similar graphs for the summer season in the comments section, let's see. Might even send an email if I don't get a response, see if you can get one yourself.

It is plausible that this is an impact of gas/oil extraction and transport (which increases in winter), but this would need some checking. - gavin

Gas/oil extraction and transport increase in winter?! So that's why the Kulluk was being towed to Seattle for the winter... Yeah, yeah, I know, drilling and producing are two different things but still, could someone in the know, explain why and how extraction and transport increase in the winter?

Thats true on land (most of the heavy uses require hard frozen ground). But, at sea, I don't think there is any activity during winter.

Fishermen in the northeast and scientists have commented that the warm Gulf Stream has changed location in places.

It pushes warm water up there where it has an impact even in the winter:

The first image clearly shows that the westerly Svalbard branch of the Gulf stream must be destabilizing methane hydrates between Norway and Svalbard. The effects of the eastern Yermack branch of the Gulf stream which enters the Barents Sea is clearly seen in the third figure and methane hydrates in the whole Barents Sea region are clearly being destabilized by the heat it is bringing in. All this extra heating of the Gulf Stream causing increased evaporation is the reason for the giant flooding that has been seen in Europe and the water clouds are preventing the ocean from losing its heat efficiently so the Yermack and Svalbard branches can still destabilize the methane hydrates even in the dead of winter.

(When Government Doesn't Get It). The warnings that this, and worse, would happen have been ignored for years.

Dreddly guy, I think that an oceanographer would say that the Gulf Stream doesn't flow that far to the north. The Gulf Stream spreads out as it turns away from the US coast, crosses the North Atlantic and becomes the North Atlantic Drift Current. Further on, the flow is called the Norwegian Current. Of course, the important issue is the flow in these currents and measurements are routinely taken, which would provide more substance to these claims. Looking at some data, one can't really see much warmth in the Nordic Seas.

E. Swanson

mactitan, That video in your link is from May 28, 2008.

The link works if you copy plain text & past in browser. It was just posted Saturday and has some good graphics at the end.

I know its getting alot of hits. works when on click on link (using chrome)
Thanks for any help.

I'm not having a problem using chrome but it's on main page : http://unofficialnetworks.com/

Not to be missed !

Thanks for your link.

Just go directly to youtube to view:

'"CHASING ICE" captures largest glacier calving ever filmed - OFFICIAL VIDEO '

Energy Funding Outlook Looks Bleak as Obama Begins Second Term

... Under sequestration, across-the-board cuts would go into effect in March, and be followed by a decade-long funding cap. “The joke is that flat [budget] is the new doubling,” says Thom Mason, head of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest science and energy lab in the U.S. Department of Energy’s system. “The fact that it’s really important and a high priority means you don’t get killed.”

Software Predicts Tomorrow’s News by Analyzing Today’s and Yesterday’s

Researchers have created software that predicts when and where disease outbreaks might occur based on two decades of New York Times articles and other online data. The research comes from Microsoft and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The system provides striking results when tested on historical data. For example, reports of droughts in Angola in 2006 triggered a warning about possible cholera outbreaks in the country, because previous events had taught the system that cholera outbreaks were more likely in years following droughts. A second warning about cholera in Angola was triggered by news reports of large storms in Africa in early 2007; less than a week later, reports appeared that cholera had become established. In similar tests involving forecasts of disease, violence, and a significant numbers of deaths, the system’s warnings were correct between 70 to 90 percent of the time.

... or you could read TOD

India's Changing Appetite Throws Up Meaty Issues

"Things like Thanksgiving, which was never celebrated over here in Mumbai, is now being celebrated every year. The new generation are cool with eating anything," he said. "With rising disposable incomes, meat consumption is increasing," ... "Before meat would have been seen as for a special occasion."

Members of the Jain faith and some groups within India's majority Hindu religion hold vegetarianism as an ideal. Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi espoused a meat-free diet as part of his non-violent philosophy.

But fewer of the younger generation appear to feel the same.

Despite coming from a "hardcore veg" Hindu community, bartender Ishita Manek is an enthusiastic member of the Mumbai Meat Marathon, a group that gets together every weekend to try out protein-heavy dishes."... The mindset is changing and no one really sticks to traditional values anymore,"

With chicken a favourite meat, the rapid rise of the domestic poultry market is a good indication of changing diets. Currently worth an estimated $9.0 billion, it is growing at an annual rate of 20 percent, driven by broiler meat, according to Technopak.

It's a myth that India is and was a vegetarian country, large parts of the country esp the lower classes have always consumed meat. It's mostly the upper classes particularly the Brahmins and certain other sects who don't eat Meat. Where I come from, meat is served in religious ceremonies by Brahmins. We have a ceremony (at 6 months of age) where a child is given small pieces of meat to taste, it's meant to wean the child off mother's milk in future.

BP Gas Price Manipulation Alleged By Ex-Employee In New Lawsuit

The allegations and denial:

Drew Sickinger, BP’s former head of gas liquids trading, is suing the gas giant, claiming that the company fired him so that it could manipulate the market and gouge prices, according to Bloomberg. The suit doesn’t specify how BP allegedly manipulated prices, only noting that the company tried to establish a dominant and controlling position in the market.

BP denied the allegations in a statement to The Huffington Post.

(Huffington Post).

Lets make a new law.

States Considering Laws That Would Make it an Act of Terrorism to Report on Abuses at Factory Farms


How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an “act of terrorism” for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.

And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

It was always obvious what kinds of things that tool would be used for, wasn't it?

Well I guess the people from the great land of the free are free to choose their own corparate dictator. Other then that I would say US politics is pretty f*cked up.

Insight: Could Biofuel Crops Invade Natural Areas?

There is growing concern that biofuel crops will escape cultivation areas and invade surrounding forests, wetlands or grasslands. Many of the desirable traits of biofuel crops, such as rapid growth, short generative time, disease resistance and a broad tolerance to a variety of environmental conditions, are also characteristic of successful invading plant species [and weeds]. Proposed biofuel crop plants, like giant reed (Arundo donax) and Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifer), are such invaders.


"..the sterility of Miscanthus × giganteus (triploid hybrid between the invasive M. sinensis and M. saccharifloris) has reduced concerns about invasiveness of this bioenergy crop..."

They plant rhizomes of this perennial grass that grow for 10-15 years with little maintenance. There is NO chance that is will become an "invasive species".

... There is NO chance that is will become an "invasive species".

Other famous last words ... 'It is unsinkable, God himself could not sink this ship'

Growing Risk: Addressing the Invasive Potential of Bioenergy Feedstocks

... there have been a number of examples of so-called sterile plants becoming invasive. Townsend’s cordgrass (Spartina x townsendii) was a sterile hybrid developed in England that after a number of decades began producing fertile plants.104 Similarly, the Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana), which was thought to be sterile, ended up reproducing by seed and becoming invasive through cross-pollination with other cultivars; individual cultivars are not invasive themselves, but different cultivars within a region can combine and produce invasive plants.105 In 1994, the Bradford pear was considered to have a very low invasion potential, but after 10 years of ornamental plantings, it was found to have invaded natural areas in at least 26 states

Defying the laws of Mendelian inheritance

In 2005, Susan Lolle and colleagues from Purdue University published a paper in Nature, concluding that Arabidopsis thaliana plants do not obey the laws of Mendelian inheritance (the idea that all genes are inherited from their parents). Instead, Lolle found that these plants were demonstrating genetic traits from older generations, which shouldn't be possible according to our current understanding of how genes are passed on.

They found that a number of their plants compensated by apparently reverting back to an ancestral genome ... They conclude that this kind of genetic instability could be explained by hidden information somewhere in the organism's genome, perhaps even Lolle's RNA cache theory.

They have been growing it for decades with NO evidence that it ever became an invasive species. It has NO seed, it is not possible.

And wouldn’t we look silly if it reverted back to its ancestral genome of invasive M. sinensis after planting 20-30 million acres. It’s also capable of hybridization. Maiden grass (M. sinensis cv. 'Gracillimus') is one cultivar that can be propagated from seed.

Starlink corn could be considered invasive. The pollen from that genetically modified corn blows into other fields then the company that created it sues the farmers.

Miscanthus giganteus is a large, perennial grass hybrid. If it is not replanted every 10-15 years it dies. Show us the evidence that it EVER reverted to anything.

Defying the laws of Mendelian inheritance

I'm confused by that article. Mendel was well aware of recessive traits hiding for a few generations. It breaks no "laws of mendelian inheritance". Species adapting in this way is what would be expected and it should surprise no one.

Yeah, they said that about kudzu which invades primarily through asexual spreading. It just keeps cloning itself.

Comprehensive review ...

Renewable Performance

Some renewable energy sources are variable, so over a year the actual energy output from wind turbines etc will be much less than the theoretical maximum if the energy conversion devices was able to work at 100% efficiency for the full time using its full rated power. The ratio of the actual effective capacity the device offers to its nameplate installed capacity is sometimes called the capacity factor, or more usually load factor. ...

Offshore wind 45%
Onshore wind 30%
Wave 23%
Tidal stream 36%
PV solar 10%
Hydro 38%
Biomass - electricity from CHP 90%
Geothermal - electricity from CHP 80%
Fuels from biomass 90%
Solar hot water 50%
Bioenergy, energy from waste 80%
Tidal range 23%

For comparison, the 2011 DUKES quotes UK nuclear load factors as: 69.3% (2006), 59.6% (2007), 49.4% (2008), 65.6% (2009) and 59.4% (2010). That averages out at 60%. But optimistically it uses 80-90% for future projects. The NEI quotes average US nuclear load factors (1971-2009) as 70% but again future projects are assumed to reach much higher figures.

Wow, 45% for offshore wind. I didn't realize it was so consistent. I guess that explains why it is pursued despite costing much more than onshore wind.

Ouch on PV solar! But I would think that would be very heavily dependent on your latitude and local climate.

In northern California's Sacramento Valley, we typically figure about 1,700 kWh PV power produced/year/installed kW. With 8,760 hours/yr, that works out to 19%. That does not include PV downtime due to inverter trips, performance degradation due to dust, etc.

Here in not-so-sunny Aberystwyth (Wales, UK), my friend averaged 7% this last year. Approx 4kWh/day from a 2.5kW system.

Well, PV starts at 50% max, right? (As there are 12 hours of daily sun on an annual average). Then deduct for clouds and less than optimal sun angles, and it's going to decline quickly from there... We're at '4 peak sun' hrs/day here in VA, so that would be 16.67%. Does that 10% figure also account for inverter & other conversion/transmission losses?

Actually, PV starts at about 30% max since, if you take into consideration the less than optimal angles closer to sunrise and sunset, you end up with a figure for "Peak Sun Hours" of somewhere about 8. A quick search for the theoretical maximum figure for Peak Sun Hours came up with nothing but, for those who don't know PSH is a term used to define the solar resource for a location. A PSH figure of 8 means that the total energy production from a given system over the course of the day is the same as having the sun appear at the optimum position, staying there for 8 hours and then disappearing. Very useful for working out economic projections for solar powered systems.

Alan fromthe islands

Even Germany does better than 10% for PV. My PV system produces about 20%. A tracking system would do better than 20%. Because the text states, "PV solar is quoted in the range 10-20%," it refers to PV mounted in a fixed direction and the table contains the wrong value.

China's Thick Smog Arrives In Japan

The suffocating smog that blanketed swathes of China is now hitting parts of Japan, sparking warnings Monday of health risks for the young and the sick.

Yellow sand from the deserts of Mongolia and China is a known source for these [2.5 micrometres] particles, as are exhausts from cars and smoke from factories.

"At this time of year they are definitely not yellow sands, so they're toxic particles," Shimizu said, warning that "people with respiratory diseases should be careful".

Can we add to that a nice graphic of the radioactive particles flowing out into the ocean from the ongoing catastrophe at Fukusima?

Yeah. Thanks. Now let's put it all together with those graphics of melting ice caps, and maybe mix in some drought maps too.

Nevermind - we already have Desdemona Despair.

The cloud from china image that is shown above is far from accurate.

I live on Jeju island. (just below the u in the word Fukuoka) I would be in the middle of the pollution. But there was no noticeable pollution here yesterday.
In reality the pollution blew from northern China nearer Beijing and came over mainland Korea.


The smog problem is real and very nasty, it doesn't help to have inaccurate stories widely publicized.

Physicians' roles on the front line of climate change

"The time of warnings and cautions is over," writes Barbara Sibbald, Deputy Editor, Canadian Medical Association Journal. "We are headed on a disastrous trajectory that only immediate, wise action can mitigate. If we do not act now, our descendants will bear the consequences, and we will bear the blame."

The role of modern physicians is to keep the 7 billion people on this planet alive forever. To that end, health care consumes massive amounts of resources so the ambulances and hospitals can be powered 24/7.

Physicians, as noble as they might be, are as compromised as everybody else. They don't have much to add to the discussion.

What was that saying about not understanding something if your paycheck depends on it?

"They don't have much to add to the discussion."

At least she has the grit to try taking some responsibility for these problems, and for her people.. what's in your tank? If you end up gasping for breath late tonight.. are you going to give the hospitals a pass for having decided just this once to shutter up and take the night off?

I give her a thumbs up also. Seems the only responsible action leading from their Hippocratic Oath...the veterinarians should jump on board too

Many physicians understand medicine. Its why they have a larger %age of the population with NO CODE tattooed on their chests.

Doctor's Diagnosis: Pipeline Symptom of 'Social Pathology'

If Canada is the patient, Northern Gateway signals sickness, Joint Review Panel told by MD.

[Dr. Warren Bell, a medical doctor in Salmon Arm, B.C., gave this testimony on Jan. 28 before the Kelowna Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.]

In 1995, I helped to found the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment or CAPE. Our purpose was to scientifically examine the intimate inter-relationship between human and ecosystem health, and improve the former by addressing the latter. With 5,500 members, CAPE has become the environmental voice of the medical profession.

Today, however, I am here not as representative of CAPE or any other organization. I am speaking as just one person, and as a physician.

'Structural pathology'

I want to address what one might call "structural pathology" in the governance system in Canada, which has led to the contention surrounding the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project -- which I have followed closely since its inception.

Your work as members of the Joint Review Panel is taking place in a social context. As a medical professional -- with, I might add, extra training in psychotherapy -- I would like to examine four diseased elements in this social context, and suggest remedies for them.

In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better ... It’s Brutal

... Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives. A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.

While I do have sympathy for those who lost their jobs in this recession for no reason of their own, some other unpleasant truths remain about the Boomer cohort in this age range:

These folks constitute the "ME Generation" that grew up in the 1960s & 70s and came of age in the 80s. Right around when they all started voting, we ended up with Ronnie Raygun, "Morning in America", trickle-down economics, and a total rejection of Carter-era conservation.

The Boomers, as a group, are woefully unprepared for retirement largely due to their own spendthrift ways and unwillingness to save. Not saying my generation (X) or Millenials are doing great in that department either, but still...

Until recently, the Boomers were strongly in favor in banking deregulation, ultra-low interest rate policy at the Fed, unfettered housing speculation, growth in "financial innovation" and numerous other bad policies that directly led to the crash of '08 and resulting TBTF bailouts.

For some, it may be a real and undeserved tragedy. For many others, it's more like chickens coming home to roost.

These folks constitute the "ME Generation" that grew up in the 1960s & 70s and came of age in the 80s. Right around when they all started voting, we ended up with Ronnie Raygun, "Morning in America", trickle-down economics, and a total rejection of Carter-era conservation.

I don't think that's accurate. That's more early gen X. Considering the low rate of voter participation among young people, I don't think it's fair to blame them for Reagan or trickle-down economics.

The first boomers were born in 1946, the peak was in 1957. They grew up in the '40s and '50s, and came of age in the '60s - you know, Woodstock, burning your draft card, free love, and all that.

Boomers started voting in 1967. Why not credit them for Carter, instead of blame them for Reagan? At the very least, the boomers deserve some credit for the environmental movement of the '60s and '70s. Unlike trickle-down economics, that was a subject that was of interest to young people.

I can't remember who it was that said it, but they said the Boomers were the "generation that told everyone not to trust anyone over 30...then grew up to prove it."

In this CNBC article: Consumers Taking Financial Hit From Rising Fuel Prices

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday that gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4 percent of income before taxes. This was the highest estimated percentage of household income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar amount.

I know our family uses significantly more than average. Roughly $6,000 per year with a total of four drivers.

An electric car will cost about $600/year in electricity. I know, they cost more upfront and range is limited. But people could replace one car in a 2 car family with an EV. Or consider a PHEV like the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Plug-In Prius (meh, too short of a range), Ford Fusion Energi, etc.

I think the price of gasoline is a choke on our economy. As soon as we start to recover, the price of gas goes up thus choking off other consumer spending and thus throwing the economy back down the stairs.

After reading a few of the comments I felt compelled to quickly register a Yahoo Mail address and fire off this:

Two words for y'all. Peak Oil! Think it's concocted? Well, Mexico and North Sea production is declining, while the two big'uns, Russia and Saudi Arabia appear to be having difficulty maintaining their joint 25% or so of world crude oil production. Throw in rapidly growing consumption in the Middle East, India and China and there's your perfect recipe for high prices! Stay tuned while I go back to setting up my renewable energy business.

Gote 3 thumbs down but, I didn't expect much anything else from that crowd. Not what they wanted to hear or, more like, exactly what they don't want to hear!

Alan from the islands

Migration: From Drought To Flooding?

... In developing countries migrants have tended to move out of drought-prone areas and marginal dryland and mountain ecosystems towards coastal ecosystems and areas that are prone to floods and cyclones. I

n North America, meanwhile, people are tending to move in the opposite direction, from the northeast towards the arid southwest and the Rocky Mountains. "Many are predicting that climate change will bring increasing water scarcity to this region," said de Sherbinin. "We have already seen that the region is becoming more and more vulnerable to forest fires, and research suggests that this is tied, in part, to climate factors.

Tis just a rumor but good on 'em for detecting the (alleged) event. Most places fail on the detection.


The claim is that "someone" hacked Fedwire.
That, for those who don't follow such things, is how money clears in the wire market. It's the central circulatory system for, well, basically everything.

Maybe blowback for something we did? ... cough - Olympic Games - /cough

US May Use Preemptive Cyber Strikes: Report

WASHINGTON — A secret legal review has concluded the US president has the power to order preemptive cyber strikes if credible evidence suggests a major digital attack is imminent from abroad, a report said Monday.

... One senior US official quoted by the Times said those behind the review had determined that cyberweapons were so powerful that -- like nuclear weapons -- they should be unleashed only on the direct orders of the commander-in-chief.

.. Obama is known to have approved the use of cyberweapons only once, when he ordered an escalating series of cyberattacks against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, the Times said.

The attacks on Iran, under the codename of Olympic Games, illustrated that a nation's infrastructure can be destroyed without bombing it or sending in saboteurs, the report said.

Rise in Oil Tax Forces Greeks to Face Cold as Ancients Did

In raising the taxes, government officials hoped not just to increase revenue but also to equalize taxes on heating oil and diesel, to cut down on the illegal practice of selling cheaper heating oil as diesel fuel.

Is there a federal tax on heating oil in the United States?

Heating oil does not contain the additives in #1 diesel fuel that reduce injector wear. Heating oil cannot be used as diesel fuel. I tried that once and had a $600 repair bill to get my truck running again.


Shrinking crude oil exports - a tough game for oil importers

Interesting, but since it looks at crude only, not products, it makes the US look like we've increased consumption rather than decreasing it, &

"US crude oil imports peaked at 10.3 mb/d in July 2005. Since Jan 2010 US crude oil production increased by 1.3 mb/d but crude imports declined by only 0.4 mb/d which means that 70% of the shale oil boom is consumed domestically. To this extent, pressures on global oil markets are not reduced. So the numbers do not confirm what the media are reporting"

is just wrong.

That is, net oil + products imports have fallen from 9400 in 1/2010 to 6700 in 11/2012 - http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mttntus2&f=m

2006 was around 12,500, and we're at around 6,700 now, so that's a decline of almost 50%!

Use EIA crude oil import data

Calculate the 12 month average at beginning of 2010, i.e. Feb 2009 - Jan 2010: 8,907 kb/d

Calculate the 12 month average in November 2012: 8,586 kb/d

Difference 8,907 - 8,586 = 321 kb/d

That's even less then the quoted, rounded JODI figure of 0.4 mb/d so my statement holds that an increase in shale oil production in that period did not translate into a corresponding reduction in crude oil imports. My post did not deal with product imports.

My post did not deal with product imports.

Why not?

Heck, if we import crude and export higher priced products, that's a good thing, right?

By saying the increase in US production was "consumed domestically", when it was actually refined & exported - while actual US consumption was declining - you definitely moved out of just talking about crude.

Wars That Aren't Meant to Be Won

... Do U.S. war makers want their wars to end? Perhaps if they can end without slowing the flow of war spending, and if they can end violently -- that is, in a manner seeming to justify war. Leading up to the recent NATO war on Libya, a U.S. weapons executive was asked by NPR what would happen if the occupation of Afghanistan ended. His reply was that he hoped we could invade Libya. During President Clinton's second term, this ad was posted on a wall in the Pentagon:

"ENEMY WANTED: Mature North American Superpower seeks hostile partner for arms-racing, Third World conflicts, and general antagonism. Must be sufficiently menacing to convince Congress of military financial requirements. Nuclear capability is preferred; however, non-nuclear candidates possessing significant bio chemical warfare resources will be considered. . . ."




In the "just back" link up above is this little gem...

"The only way Iran could strike at Israel is by firing medium-ranged Shahab-III missiles and a small number of Sajjil-2 solid propellant missiles. Both are inaccurate. Their 750-1,000 kg conventional warheads would only do limited damage – unless they made a lucky hit on Israel’s heavily defended Dimona nuclear reactor."

It's nice of the Israelis to set themselves up with the potential for nuclear fallout from conventional weapons - saves Iran from having to actually build any for the effect.

In war, countries bomb each others infrastructure...why would you spare the nukes and let your enemy win?

Texas oil surge could lower price more than 20 percent

The analytics unit of Platts, an energy data publisher, is predicting the ongoing surge in oil production from Texas’ Permian Basin and Eagle Ford formation, along with North Dakota’s Bakken area, will knock oil prices down more than 20 percent over the next five years.

BENETEK Energy analysts expect the price of Texas oil will be $74.33 a barrel in 2018 as oil drillers continue adding production. Texas oil production hit 2.14 million barrels a day in November, while North Dakota was at 731,000 barrels a day.

"$74.33 a barrel in 2018"


You have to be pretty arrogant to make any prediction on oil prices. But to predict 20% drop over the next 5 years seems amazingly arrogant. How do they model the growth of Chinese demand? The effects of hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs? The depletion in other areas? Possible uprisings in any of the many unstable oil-producing nations?

Even if they could accurately predict the "surge in oil production from Texas’ Permian Basin and Eagle Ford formation" (which I doubt), that is just a minor piece of data in predicting the overall oil price.

Diesel Fuel Shortage Enters Fourth Week

Cars queued up at gas stations on Friday for the fourth consecutive week as the diesel gas shortage continues. The Ministry of Petroleum blames the shortage — which it alternately confirms and denies exists — on bad weather that has delayed the delivery of petroleum products, as well as unusually high demand.

... Diesel fuel is cheap, leading smugglers to attempt to sell it in neighboring countries...

this is apparently a 'Deny" week ...

Petroleum Ministry denies rumors of fuel shortage

The country is not experiencing a shortage of gasoline or diesel fuel, the Petroleum Ministry announced on Thursay.

In a press statement issued on the sidelines of a conference on the regulation of mining industries, Petroleum Minister Osama Kamal said the ministry met 103 percent of the demand for petrol on Tuesday, and 105 percent on Wednesday.

The minister added that he has inspected several gas stations and could not explain why cars were queuing for gas.

This is one of the many reasons why fuel subsidies are really bad. They create arbitrage opportunities such that the subsidized fuel may end up in other markets where they can fetch a better price.

Now there's a clear trend, by Friday they will have met 109 percent of demand... TGAIF!

...The minister added that he has inspected several gas stations and could not explain why cars were queuing for gas.

“They probably want to hoard gas in anticipation [of a shortage],” he said.

LOL! I guess given their past experiences that would probably be a pretty safe bet.

Friends of the Earth Says George Osborne Creating 'Bonanza' for Oil Firms

Friends of the Earth has accused George Osborne of creating a bonanza for Britain's big energy companies by providing almost £1bn of tax breaks designed to boost North Sea oil and gas production.

FoE said the chancellor was going against the advice of Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, in providing subsidies designed to ensure "every last drop of oil" is extracted from the UK's rapidly declining reserves.

David Powell, FoE's economics campaigner, said in the current financial year new field allowances had been created and an existing one expanded. As a result, tax breaks since the 2012 budget were worth £864m to the industry and were likely to rise further as a result of the field allowance to Dana Petroleum for its $1.6bn oil and gas development east of Shetland, announced in late 2012.

"With almost £1bn of tax breaks lavished upon them this financial year alone, it's bonanza time for dirty gas and oil," Powell said. "George Osborne is bending over backwards to help the big oil barons, but getting him to support renewable energy is like trying to squeeze blood from a stone."

I think there is a distinction between the 'reduced' tax levels offered here (or at least reductions in whole field life taxes, such as offset of development costs and exposure to decomissioning charges etc) and the 'subsidies' referred to by Jim Yong Kim, which you see in many countries (Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria etc) where fuel is sold to the populace at below market rates, with the government picking up the tab for the difference between the market value and the subsidised value.

In the UK the oil companies had a higher than industry average tax regime (windfall tax?) - it is a percentage of this higher value that is now being reduced, as I understand it. I stand to be corrected by someone who has read the details!

Related to Sellafield: Questions to the TOD community, concerning nuclear waste:

- I understand there are lots of different isotopes with different half-lives. The shorter the half-life the sooner the waste looses its danger. But when the half-life is a "gazillion years", then the isotope is euhm... stable and thus safe, or am I wrong?

- The radiation is highly energetic. Is there no way to capture that energy in a usefull way? Wrap the waste in a firm container and use it in a sort of geothermal manner? This idea is rather trivial, so there must be a reason why it doesn't work. But I do not see which one.

Capturing the energy has been done. Either thermal, your hunk of radiological material heats up and you use the heat in some manner. Or direct conversion to high voltage (ina vacuum). If your sample emits charged particles (Alha or Beta radiation), the charged particles can do work against an electric field. So say you have alpha particles at 2Mev, they can just barely climb a million volt difference and deposit on an electrode at a voltage of a million volts. Potentially this method is 100% efficient.
Both methods have been used to power deep space probes.

But, of course you still have a dangerous radioactive substance. If something happens to your device, and the stuff gets out into the environment, its not pretty.

Of course geothermal energy is essentially capturing the heat flow from the stuff the planet is made out of. Rad waste from a presolar supernova event. Supernovas are a great source of rad waste! I read that one of the more active isotopes Aluminum 27? with a half life roughly a million years. The galaxy is supposed a couple of solar masses floating around! In fact most of the light we see from a supernova is radioactive decay of rad waste from the explosion (although most of the energy is in neutrinos and gas motion, that doesn't turn into light).

The large high rad waste tanks at Hanford were physically hot, but not boiling, and we too speculative that the tanks could be used for heating. However, this was high rad waste and dangerous. It is also relative low quality heat from a commercial perspective.

The question has been raised about the effect the half life of an isotope has on the extent of the health threat.

Basically the reciprocal of the half life defines the rate at which the atoms of the isotope undergo radioactive decay. A short half life implies that a given amount of radioactive material will emit ionizing or other particles at a high rate. This implies that the amount of the isotope, and its radioactivity, will rapidly decline (a good thing from the perspective of getting rid of the stuff). However, it also implies that the initial level of radioactivity will be high (a bad thing if it is not contained).

On the other hand, a long half life, implies that, for a given number of atoms, the rate of radioactive decay is low. Over a time that is short relative to the half life, only a small proportion of the isotope will decay and the rate of radioactive decay will be relatively constant.

There are many factors that affect the toxicity of radioactive materials. In general, isotopes with short half lives tend to be particularly hazardous. For example, polonium 210 has a half life of 138.376 days, and being extremely dangerous, has achieved notoriety for its probable use in at least one assassination. Note that heavy elements such as plutonium and uranium are chemically toxic and this can significantly contribute to the overall health hazard under some conditions. In some cases, radioactive isotopes will tend to accumulate in specific parts of the body. This can substantially increase their toxicity, particularly if the result is to reduce the rate at which the material is excreted. For example radioactive iodine will tend to accumulate in the thyroid (non-radioactive iodine can be taken as a countermeasure to reduce this behavior).

Verwimp, there is something about half-life that most people seem to miss. If something has a half life of a "gazillion years" as you put it, then the radiation would be so slow it would be hardly detectable. Look at it this way, if something has a half life of two days, then it releases half the energy it will ever release in just two days. But if something has a half life of two million years, then it releases half the energy it will ever release over two million years. The former releases an enormous amount of energy over two days while the latter takes two million years to release the same amount of energy. Given that both have the same number of original isotopic atoms of course, and assuming that both give off the same type of radiation, alpha, beta or gamma.

But as a general rule, the shorter the half-live of the isotope the more dangerous it is. The danger very long half-life isotopes is that they may be ingested. An very long half-life isotope is far, far more dangerous if it is in your blood, circulating through your brain, than it is if it is in your hand. And the type of radiation matters also. Alpha radiation is only dangerous if ingested. An alpha particle can penetrate seven centimeters of atmosphere or a solid about the thickness of one sheet of paper. Or that was what I was told when I worked for a beta gauge company called "Industrial Industrial Nucleonics" out of Columbus Ohio. I only worked for them for about one year way back in the late 60s. I think they are defunct now.

But to your question of capturing the energy from the normal decay of radioactive isotopes. Not a chance of that ever becoming a general practice because it is far too weak to capture. That is unless you are talking about geothermal energy. The radioactive decay of radioactive isotopes is what keeps the earth's core hot. It is the source of all heat within the earth. It is the driver of plate tectonics, volcanoes and such. Without the radioactive heat generated in the earth, the earth would probably be a cold dead planet like Mars. At least I have heard that argued. I would not argue that point myself however.

A side note: Both Jupiter and Saturn give off more internal energy, from radioactive decay, than they receives from the sun.

Ron P.

Minor point. Alpha particles do not penetrate skin but deliver a hefty punch directly into a few cells on a membrane - hence lung cancer from radon breathed in by uranium miners and in many homes in areas where radon flows from the ground. For an example of man-made ocurence: plutonium (different isotopes with some very long-lived) is still around and in us from bomb tests and is toxic as well as delivering the very dangerous alpha radiation.

Isotopes and compounds of plutonium are radioactive and accumulate in bone marrow. ...

During the decay of plutonium, three types of radiation are released—alpha, beta, and gamma. Alpha radiation can travel only a short distance and cannot travel through the outer, dead layer of human skin. Beta radiation can penetrate human skin, but cannot go all the way through the body. Gamma radiation can go all the way through the body.[89]...
Even though alpha radiation cannot penetrate the skin, ingested or inhaled plutonium does irradiate internal organs.
Plutonium is more dangerous when inhaled than when ingested. ... The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from inhaling 5,000 plutonium particles, each about 3 microns wide, to be 1% over the background U.S. average.

And etc ...

Separation of plutonium found inevitably in power station wastes is one of the problems in dealing with High Level Radioactive Wastes, over, quote, "geological time-scales". They are an unholy brew: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physics/research/condensedmatt/glassce...

Here is another tid-bit and another element - polonium I did not know about:

Deaths from polonium leap into the many thousands when one considers the increased exposure to radon experienced by miners leading to sickness and death. The internal damage is not due to radon itself but caused by the fact that its decay product is polonium, which deposits on the lining of the lungs and other organs where its alpha emissions can cause fatal damage.


But as a general rule, the shorter the half-live of the isotope the more dangerous it is.

One should not discount the heavy metal toxicity of the isotope in question. Uranium would be considered 'safe' as a 1/2 life of 704 million and 4.47 billion years. The mutanigenic property of the heavy metal is far more of a concern.

Both Jupiter and Saturn give off more internal energy, from radioactive decay, than they receives from the sun.

Is it radioactive decay -or just the cooling/contracting of their humongous atmospheres? They don't have a huge amount of rocky material -its mostly hydrogen and helium, which aren't radioactive.

The generally accepted source of gas giants' heat is Kelvin-Helmholtz gravitational compression, that is, the planets are essentially still forming, and shrinking as they lose energy.

They do not have significant heavy elements that undergo radioactive decay.

Verwimp - to add to the above, it depends on what the radioactive isotope breaks down to. My understanding is it can potentially break down to another radioactive isotope, and if so, well, that needs to be considered too, of course. The uranium decay chain for U238 has over a dozen daughter nuclides. Some are stable (non-radioactive), many are not, as you can see from the link.

I mentioned upthread the concept of consumption of the waste products. This occurs because of elemental transmutation, part of the nuclear process. If we can engineer reactors which can perform this function we can potentially turn the wastes into additional energy and destroy the radioactive isotopes in most cases in the process. The commercial attempts to do this have met with very mixed results, but this sort of reprocessing is at least theoretically possible.

"If we can engineer reactors which can perform this function we can potentially turn the wastes into additional energy and destroy the radioactive isotopes in most cases in the process. "


The pilot plant was built and operated successfully. But they would be small, and the accountants want big reactors because the site fixed costs are less per unit of output. Which is why the AP-650 found no buyers but the AP-1000 did.

To see why small reactors work better, see


The fast and thermal non-leakage probabilities are dependent on geometry, and especially volume to surface area ratios. The same reason that a squirrel can fall out of a tree and not get hurt when it hits the ground, and you do get hurt when falling off the same branch.

Anyway, as the other article up top pointed out, the real unsolvable problem with nuclear power is economics.

"Centrica, which had an option to take a 20 percent stake in four new reactors at two EDF power plants, said today it decided not to participate as the project is likely to cost more than originally planned and take longer than expected. "

PV - was aware of the small reactor successes - was trying to point to the commercial difficulties, the stuff at scale that you also refer to.

Saw this today - Are Mini-Reactors The Future Of Nuclear Power?, to your point. There's a real disconnect in the nuclear industry, not unlike the other energy industries. This ties back to the upthread discussions of wealth. As a consumer, and a reasonably decent character, I want energy and I want it's waste stream to be accounted for. Ideally, the waste stream is used as the basis for some other useful, wealth enhancing product or process.

This is emphatically not what a lot of industries want. Particularly publicly traded ones. They just want this quarters' profit, and pretty much to hell with everything else. To hell, in particular, with having to account for the waste stream. That's just a cost that reduces their profit, and under our current crony capitalism, they can be assured they won't have to sweat that cost.

Very discouraging. However, things can change. Well, I hope so anyway.

Real quick, on the small reactor meme, the article does a decent job of portraying the downsides, and a commenter was quick to point out the need to look into thorium as the primary fuel. There are a number of technologies which have been demonstrated on a small scale, and which might scale up (either using many little units, or a smaller number of large units). It's a pretty open field at this point, and a number of potential technologies could potentially be significantly safer than the current, 50 year old light water reactors commonly in use.

Small units are unfavorable because they allow for decentral power generation which is opposite to the philosophy of the major utilities: big and centralized to support (their) monopolies. It's also a reason why most utilities try to keep renewable at bay for as long as possible.

Duke Energy to Close Crystal River Nuclear Plant

CRYSTAL RIVER - The largest U.S. electricity company said Tuesday it will permanently close a Florida nuclear power plant after botched repairs and use $835 million from an insurance settlement to refund consumers forced to pay for higher-cost replacement power.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy said Tuesday it will close its Crystal River Nuclear Plant north of Tampa, starting a process that may take 60 years before the site is decontaminated and dismantled. The company said it is considering whether to build a new, natural-gas-fueled power plant to replace the power lost by closing the nuclear plant.

The nuclear plant operated by Duke Energy's subsidiary Progress Energy Florida has been shut down since 2009, when its concrete containment building cracked during a maintenance and upgrade project. A 2011 repair attempt resulted in new cracks in other parts of the containment structure. Estimates put repair costs at between $1 billion and $3.4 billion.

... it will take 60 years to decommission this plant but it may be underwater in 40. Elevation 7 ft

Ouch. What massive cluster-F that has been. Cracking it during the upgrade. Cracking it again when trying to repair the cracks. Like San Onofre, these 'upgrades' to nuclear plants don't always seem to go so well. I'm saddened that our engineering is failing so badly.

Know when to cut your losses, best decision they could possibly make.

Here is a comprehensive article from Sept.

How in the world does one crack a containment building that is meter(s) thick and designed to withstand bombs, crashing airplanes, nuclear accidents and whatnot by doing maintenance?

They cut a big hole in the vessle to bring in a new steam generator which de-stressed the concrete. The new, upgraded SG was too big to get through the original maint. hatch. After retensioning and repairing the first crack, other cracks began to appear and they realized the entire structure was delaminating. Crappy construction from the getgo, it seems. Its only 35 years old. Makes one wonder, as there are other reactors being re-licenced for up to 60 years.


We don't need no stinkin' nukes...

I hear a little 'click, click, click' ..

It must be the sound of one Invisible Hand Fissioning.

I wouldn't be too quick to blame crappy construction. When you try to modify a composite structure (multiple layers of steel and concrete) the stresses can play out in unexpected ways. The fancy computer programs do not anticipate everything, because the people who programmed them didn't anticipate everything. Or have hard numbers for everything they do anticipate. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code has a safety factor of 3.5 built into it, and that is for ordinary metal structures.

You should see the calculations you have to do to add a nozzle to a Code pressure vessel. And that is much simpler than enlarging a door on that containment. Yeah, the engineers screwed up. Yeah, the owners should have been content with a like-for-like SG swap instead of trying to wring out a few percent more power. Plenty of blame to go around, with or without adding the original concrete work into the mix.

Reinforced concrete is a hell of a messy material to model. You have a matrix, then often some sort of filler (like gravel), and one or more types and orientation of rebar. All these things respond differently to stress, and things are pretty brittle, so you gotta deal with cracks. And over a long lifetime chemistry would also be modifying things. The models are clearly inadequate.

The dome looks similar to the domes at Koeberg nuclear power station. I knew a foreman who worked on them. They cast ducts in the concrete, feed steel tendons into the ducts, and tighten them with hydraulic jacks i.e. they are post-tensioned concrete. The cables have specially-designed anchors at their ends to hold the tension, and they pump grout into the ducts to hold the cables in place and keep air and moisture out.

If you cut the tendons anywhere you are relying on the grout to take the stress instead of the anchors. Grout isn't designed to do this job. It seems they got lucky doing similar work at other reactors and the grout held. This time it didn't. As an engineer I have to say cutting a bigger hole in the concrete sounds like insanity.

The same procedure had been done successfully many times before at other plants.

The concrete at Crystal River was faulty from the initial construction. They should have considered that before starting the upgrade.

Written by Verwimp:
when the half-life is a "gazillion years", then the isotope is euhm... stable and thus safe, or am I wrong?

It depends on how much isotope, the ambient pressure and its decay mode. For example, 238U has:

half-life: 4.46 billion years
1 mole of 238U contains: 6.022 x 1023 atoms
1 mole of it weights: 238 grams
decay mode: α with 4.267 MeV + 234Th

It emits 3.0 MBq of α particles (that's 3 million decays per second). For comparison, background radiation is about 1 Bq. Both uranium and skin stop alpha particles, but if you eat it or inhale it, you die.

234Th is radioactive with a half-life of 24.10 days emitting a β- particle which is a bit more dangerous. After a year, the above sample of 238U emits about 3 MBq of β- from the decaying thorium.

The decay modes continue to protactinium and then 234U with a half-life of 246 thousand years. Because billions of years are required for the decay rate to reach equilibrium from 234U, you will not see it in a sample refined by man.

By way of background, a little while ago there was a relatively significant tremor on the Netherlands in the area of Slochteren, where NG has been extracted since the 50's. Here is a follow-up headline on that:

roughly translated as:
NAM (the Dutch Oil Company) received last week 200 new claims for damage done by an earthquake. It's not just individuals but also dike guardian Bert Middel from the Noorderzijlvest water district who warns of a possible dike break as a result of earthquakes caused by NG extraction.

Consequences, consequences....

Electric Cars Head Toward Another Dead End

What a massive steaming pile of Bovine excrement that article is. They conjure up some revisionist history wherein they make it look like Nissan and Toyota started at about the same time with Nissan going into electric vehicles and Toyota going into hybrids and they've competed against each other. That's just not accurate at all. Nissan's also been into hybrids and Toyota has also been into plug-ins. Nissan certainly did make a big bet on pure electrics and adoption has not been big. But it is at the stage where the Prius was 10 years ago. It is fledgling market. The Leaf has struggled because the price differential between the pure EV Leaf and the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Chevy Volt is small such that people opted for the Volt.

And plug-in hybrids is where the big action is for electrified vehicles right now . . . the article doesn't even mention PHEVs! The GM Volt, the Ford C-Max Energi, the Ford Fusion Energi, and the Plug-In Prius.

And then it portrays hydrogen cars as the new hope? LOL. They've been working on fuel cell cars for a very long time. If they were close to being practical they would have offered them. As bad as the economics are for electric vehicles, the economics for fuel cell cars are much worse.

More than 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in the USA last year. That is definitely a small market but it is a start. And how many fuel cell cars? 5. Yes, five. And those are heavily subsidized lease-only deals.

It was an odd article. I can't imagine what agenda the authour was serving.

You can plug in an EV at home. Where's the hydrogen fueling infrastructure at, comparatively?

Meh. I don't think there is any conspiracy behind it. I just think they are clueless. Then again . . . surely they have heard of the Chevy Volt . . . and no mention? The Volt has sold MUCH better than the Leaf such that PHEVs seem to be the main path for plug-ins for now. They didn't think that was worth mentioning? Instead calling plug-ins a 'dead end'?

Oh and where is the hydrogen fueling infrastructure? Supposedly 58 in the whole country. And I think that number is inflated.

I remember being exciting about hydrogen cars in wait for it... 1979! I don't think they are any closer than they were then. Mention hydrogen (or fuel cell powered cars), and I roll my eyes.

Ahhhh! Hydrogen fuel cell powered cars, the cars of the future and they always will be! Kinda like commercial fusion power.

Alan from the islands

Hydrogen fuel cell powered cars, the cars of the future and they always will be

As pointed out in the past on the watt podcast in an interview with a fuel cell scientist along with Don Lancaster of 'guru's lair' fame AND a link I used to have in my description file here on TOD who pointed out the scrap metal value of the steel tanks to store hydrogen exceed the economic value of the Hydrogen stored therein - storage of Hydrogen is the issue.

Agreed. if you want a fuel cell car, use methanol.

With the current technology there is no chance of EVs getting a large percentage of the vehicle population..

But there are interesting progress that could make them much better:
Carbon nano tubes has come a long way - and can now be made cheaply and into both wires and plates.

Sorry for it in Danish - But im sure there are US sources.

Highlights of the material is:
Conductivity of electricity is 1000 better than copper. This could make EV motor cheaper and lighter.
20 times stronger than carbonfiber plates - making vehicles lighter and/or stronger.

The product could be essential to distribution of electricity as well - and a million other applications.

Now we just need the perfect battery.

For once I actually believe that the product can be scaled up to a significant degree at a reasonable production cost. In time probably much less than price of copper.

Even with a theoretically perfect ideal battery the equation for energy in electrical form is E=I*V*T where T is Time. You cannot increase I or V arbitrarily. Power loss due to current is I2*R. If you bring in the power at a voltage different from what the system runs on you must do voltage conversions which always entail losses - especially if you significantly increase the voltage to reduce T, then you also run into safety issues and increased spacing and materials requirements. There's no free lunch and no getting around T, and on a system level the time required to transfer energy makes an EV based automotive transportation system very different from the system we have which is based on a dense portable material with the energy already contained within it - and not necessarily viable. And non-ideal batteries only make the situation worse.

You post this all the time as if it refutes the existence of EVs. Yet every single day, tens of thousands of people wake up, get dressed, get in their EVs, and drive to work in their EVs in apparent defiance to your understanding of physics.

And you consistently try to deflect my point as if I was saying anything about what one, or ten thousand, people can do with an EV. Then thousand EVs is meaningless. I'm talking about the primary transportation SYSTEM of the country. Add that T term to EVERY refill and see how it works. If it doesn't make a viable SYSTEM then I really don't care if you can make an EV work - so could I, but that's not the point.

When people talk about EVs, they are also talking about the existing automobile transportation system working pretty much exactly as the present system does, just with a different energy source. Presently EV's fail to meet their expectations. The existing ICE system will also fail of course, but that does not mean the EV will be viable.

Beyond the charging time issue there are other significant problems with making an EV based transportation system, including our antiquated power grid and the required investment in road infrastructure. I do not believe an EV based personal automobile transportation system will work, and if we try to make it resources that could be more usefully spent will be wasted. Fortunately it looks like it will be rejected before that happens.

Well I'm trying to understand your objections and clarify.

I agree that EVs do not work exactly like current ICE cars. So what? For 95% of commuting, they do work the same. Just plug in at night at home. For the other 5% of applications, people can do car sharing, have a second, rent a car, etc. I don't see how such a system is 'not viable' as you keep putting it. When I got an EV, I kept my old gas car to deal with longer trips. However, I find myself almost never using it such that I have to remember to hook it up to the 12V charger or else the battery will be dead when I do need it.

Regarding the grid infrastructure, people have looked into that and it is really not a problem. We could handle the vast majority of light-duty vehicles with the grid we have right now:
We can improve the grid faster than people will buy EVs so it is really a non-issue. With regard to road maintence, I think EVs should pay an annual flat fee for now since they don't pay a gas tax. Eventually, an odometer system (or GPS system) should be used that also takes into account the vehicle's weight. However, with so few EVs on the road at this point, the hassle of creating and running such a system currently outweighs its utility such that a flat fee at car registration is better.

I think EVs will not be rejected, I think they will be grudgingly adopted. People are slow to change to new things and they'll cling to the gas cars even when it becomes EVs are more economic. However, when push comes to shove, people will realize that 100 mile range limit is better than riding the bus or $15/gallon gas.

And don't take my advocacy of EVs as meaning that I am against other measures. I fully agree that we absolutely need to build better public transportation systems. Every major city should have a good subway or light-rail system. And I think we should build high-speed trains for region transportation (things such as LA to SF). And new housing should be built with transport in mind. But with our current build out of housing, there is no viable way of supporting it without personal vehicles.

But it is strange . . . it is almost as if there is this desire for a collapse such that alternatives are criticized without seriously analyzing them.

On my part there is a desire to avoid what I regard as a major misallocation of what will be scarce resources.

At the place I work I do not see an EV working for most of the employees here - for most the commute is too long for the real world EV range at present (which is not 100mi). It's an industrial park located on formerly fabulous farm land in the middle of nowhere - automobile-centric infrastructure. Few here command a salary that would allow them to invest in a second vehicle for short commutes - or any new vehicle at all for most of them (lots of used cars in the parking lot). Then again, we are a manufacturer so nobody makes the kind of money we could if we were in the tertiary/financial economy. I'd be happy to ride a bike a few miles to pick up a trolley or even a bus. It will not be too long before these jobs are gone, and then there will be no need for an EV for commuting nor any way to pay for one.

I've worked in the electric utility industry for 25 years. Let's just say that my opinion of the state of that system and its ability to take on the load of a significant portion of our automotive transportation energy is rather less optimistic. Keep in mind that we gutted these organizations and converted their assets into private wealth. I just got back from the DistribuTECH conference and while there are plenty of high-tech complex plans, what money is being spent is not going into actual physical power system infrastructure. It's going to communications (so we can make our old hardware more "efficient" by pushing it harder), consultants (because the technical staffing is gone) and siphoned off by the connected. All that communication now needs security, things get ever more complex and expensive and there is diminishing returns on the investment.

Collapse will happen regardless of anyone's desire. The issue is how we deal with it. It is wise to criticize attempts to perpetuate failed systems created for and dependent on fossil fuels.

From your description, the system you're part of isn't dying due to being dependent on FF, it's being murdered by greed.

The greed is always there, it is a symptom not a cause. It is dying for the same reason all the systems we built when fossil fuels were cheap and plentiful are dying. Without the massive return on that cheap energy it cannot be construed to provide enough return on investment so the greedy are stripping the place to the bare walls. Well, that's history actually. Read Greer's The Wealth of Nature.

What we would need if we are to continue the grid and do the kinds of projects envisioned is more generation, transmission and distribution capacity, but we cannot even afford to maintain what we have let alone make the investment that would require. So instead we appeal to the gods of technology and try to get by with (what we believe is) a smaller investment in an overlayed communication and control system that will allow us push the old T&D infrastructure harder (reducing waste and inefficiency, you see). But it turns out that's more complex and expensive than we hoped and it doesn't actually increase the capacity anyway. And would cause us to use up the present capital investment more quickly, which is considered a good thing by most conventional measures of success.

Now, the stove is lit and the animals are fed, so I am going to go have a beer. Carry on......

Immediately after WWII was a halcyon time, with massive land development funded by cheap FF energy, generating massive economic growth. That growth is wonderful while it lasts, and the American economy seems to have become completely addicted, and is going to keep this constant land development going until the whole thing goes off the rails. Back in the 1950's it must have all seemed wonderful, wholesome. But trust America to take a good thing and just keep going and going until they can't keep going anymore and hit rock bottom.

Actually, growth in the US was higher before WWII, with coal. And, wind power today is cheaper then coal was then.

Buy politician -> Deregulate -> Fleece -> Collapse -> Golden parachute -> Buy politician -> Government bailout -> Continue fleecing

Since everything has been getting de-regulated the infrastructure has been squeezed as much as possible to wring out profit at the expense of reliability. Short-term profit at the expense of long-term stability and investment.

I don't think a lack of cheap energy is needed as an excuse for the greedy to do their thing.

OTOH, wind power is pretty cheap, high E-ROI and scalable.

Don't forget, Greer is a popular writer, not an engineer - he has no technical training or experience. He's not a reliable source for energy info.

Don't forget, Greer is a popular writer, not an engineer - he has no technical training or experience. He's not a reliable source for energy info.

No, he's not an engineer, but I am. And I agree with him.


Well, his ideas about energy are unrealistic. There's plenty of affordable, high E-ROI, scalable energy sources out there: wind primarily, with solar coming up fast. Both continue to get cheaper. Intermittency is pretty straightforward to solve - seasonal intermitency will probably be dealt with primarily with "wind-gas".

EVs (partial and pure) are affordable even now, and they'll keep on getting better and cheaper.

Climate Change does look to me like an enormous problem - much larger than PO.

Losses also occur with an ICE. Given current technology and assuming you are correct, EVs still make sense in an environment where speed, size, and distance is not an issue. There are entire communities, for example, where the only personal mode of powered transport are vehicles which are essentially golf carts.

You may be correct. The system must be different in order to accommodate EVs. Towns and cities need to be configured and planned in a way that minimizes distances required so that maximum use can be made of walking, biking, transit, and low powered, light vehicles where the other modes are not feasible. In this context, EVs may be desirable for a number of reasons including no direct pollution and quiet.

Just because the EV cannot replicate all the featuers of an ICE does not mean it cannot be used in a setting that is appropriate to its limitations

EV charging is very fast - it only takes a few seconds to plug in before turning in for the night...

I am perfectly aware of the problems and I am perfectly aware there is no free lunch. But there is a difference in cost to eating at McDonalds and then the Restaurant Noma.

But it is quite unclear what your problem is with carbon-nano-tubes. It is a huge improvement and has the potential to increase efficiency in many applications. Some of those being: Electrical motors, Electricity distribution, the P_cu in transformers, much more power efficient computers, much lighter materials to make vehicles from and so forth. This technology has every characteristic of a major game changer.

Improving batteries is a major obstacle - which time will show with the current population of EVs - and hybrids albeit to a lower degree.

You point about "t" on a battery is like telling me that the clock is ticking - most people know that - which you should be aware of.

The voltage and current in an ideal battery is limitsless - the components around the battery since not ideal will, of course, limit particularly the voltage levels. Todays DC-DC converters do a very nice job of adjusting current and changing voltage levels btw.

And, of course, an ideal battery is not realistic in any meaningful timeframe - if ever.

What we need in battery technology is also something that can be produced. Supercaps - made from extremely porous carbon tubes shows a way forward. Possibly enhanced versions of these can provide the batteries we need.

A battery that would solve a lot of the problems with EV could have one or two of several characterisics to be "good enough" as long as the other parameters do not exceed existing quality battery specifications. Those could be:

1. No significant loss during charging - much like supercaps.
2. No deterioation of the battery capacity - much like supercaps.
3. Supercheap to produce and non-toxic components - much like supercaps.
4. Easy to restore the original capacity. Much like supercaps - again.

While I do not know the degree to which we can drive the supercaps - they do show that a lot of the characteristics are possible - and i BELIEVE its possible to increase the capacity of this technology much further.

Also there are other interesting technologies on the way - but none that i would call imminent and realistic for mass production - just like supercaps do not have the significant capacity yet.

But besides having the new battery technology - we, of course, has THE BIG problem: Producing the required amounts of electricity.

You are just wishing and hoping that technology will save us, throwing around buzzwords. Maybe one of these will hit. Or not. Should we base our plans on that hope?

I design DC-DC converters BTW. There are always losses and limitations. And no, most people do not understand anything about why the time to recharge an EV should be any more than the time to refill their tank.

You just have to be rude about it, don't you?

He hasn't said 'Technology will save us'.. but that's what you regularly choose to read into comments like this.

What I saw in his comment is that this is worth looking at and researching. He moderated his statements, but you added some presumed hyperbole back into it so you can spit at it.

"Possibly enhanced versions of these can provide the batteries we need."

I can see why you've made such strange assumptions about what 'the people' think, if this is the way you communicate with them.

Oh please. Hoping that one of the newest buzzwords - carbon nanotubes - could become the requisite improvement needed to allow EVs getting a large percentage of the vehicle population is rather exactly hoping technology will save us. More specifically, it is hoping a new technological development will allow the continuation of about the most damaging thing we now do.

One of the reasons why the option of extremely fast charging is a good thing is: the faster a battery can charge the better it is in freely moving electrons around which usually means that the battery suffers less damage while charging/discharging which increases the number of cycles you get from the battery pack which increases lifetime which makes them cheaper to use. Even when you slow-charge.

most people do not understand anything about why the time to recharge an EV should be any more than the time to refill their tank.

But they'll adapt. Unless you do not sleep at night, there is no time problem with charging up an EV to handle the daily driving needs of most commuters. A lot of people dream about fast-charging. Meh. I guess that is OK if you absolutely have to drive an EV a long distance. But why not just use a gas car for that?

Once a person accepts that EVs are not the same as gas cars but can handle 95% of the driving needs just fine, people will easily adapt to them. People readily accepted crappy call quality and dropped calls in exchange for cell phones. People accepted lesser audio quality in exchange for being able to put thousands of songs in their MP3 player that fits in their pocket. When gas costs $8/gallon (or whatever the magic number is), people will accept EVs with a 100 mile range that can be recharged over night. (Yes, I know that the lower cost EVs don't do 100 miles but I think as batteries get cheaper, they'll up the battery size a bit to around there to make people feel more comfortable.)

Yeah - I do also design DC-DC converters so im not impressed - and has been an electronics engineer for 15+ years and an technician for 25+ years. Working as hardware designer for Siemens, Danfoss, Grunfoss and several other major and minor companies.

Please tell me - what else do we have other than hope? You perhaps believe in Non-hope? Not very useful. What buzzwords? Perhaps they are buzzwords to you - to me they are common words.

And, of course, there are limitations to DC-DC converters - please tell me about anything that do not have limitations that we use here on earth?

Btw. Since you know so much - then you also know the charging and discharging characteristics of super/ultracaps? Right? Then you also know where the problem is? Let me help you: Its not in any practical application limited by the capacitors charging characteristics.

Btw. Im quite realistic about the future - and I do not believe we can mitigate the coming problems without major devastation, war, poverty and mass starvation/death. EVs will NOT save the world. Im fairly positive that humankind is going to stay on the "standard run" from LTG (with the limitations they have included - such as political problems) until a probable crash. When that will happen - noone knows - but i personally dont believe in more than 15 years.

That doesnt hinder me in thinking about things that could help.

Hope for what? What is the goal? I used to be a total car nut, it was my main interest. I filled my head with useless minutia about automobiles - but somewhere along the way I finally woke from the spell and started to see the incredible cost we've paid for the automobile, and that was before I fully understood about PO and CC. The EV is just an automobile, and I believe investing in a continuation of that system will cause enormous harm partially by displacing things that could actually be useful to people that come after us, such as a rail system. If I have a hope, it is that the personal automobile will pass quickly from the world.

It goes beyond that to the entire industrial project of the last few hundred years. It is killing us and our planet - is the hope that we can continue it? Or keep it going just a little longer so we won't be the ones who have to sacrifice our comforts?

As to the supercaps - as a circuit designer you would know that traditional supercaps have high capacity and high internal impedance, making them useless for high instantaneous power uses. What are the characteristics of these supercaps promoted for EVs? I have no idea and little interest because I don't see the storage method as the main weakness of the EV, rather the time to charge required by the energy equation. That issue is swept under the rug by assuming everyone will charge at night, which only means that our old grid equipment will now be running at a greater percentage of its capacity all the time - a much higher duty cycle. What does your experience tell you that will mean?

I agree with your comments on following the trajectory of the LTG. I have come to understand that "things that could help" are not continuing the things that have hurt.


As a result of owning this car, I pay a lot more attention to where I get my news, and how much I trust what I hear/read/see. If you know the sky is blue, and the news sources that you trust so much tell you the sky is orange, you have a problem. News sources I once trusted, probably to my own ignorance, such as Fox and Drudge Report, have not only distorted facts about electric cars, specifically the Volt, but they have told lies In fact, Matt Drudge in my opinion has directly libeled GM and the Volt, and should have been taken to court and sued for millions, as I believe he has negatively affected Volt sales in that amount. If you have read this blog [editor's note: My Chevy Volt, not CleanTechnica], you know I’ve written a few entries attempting to expose a lot of the lies told by the media about this car. But my distrust of the news now goes way beyond just the electric car, as I am now forced to scrutinize almost everything else I see reported. Thankfully, my critical thinking ability has been reinvigorated. I can’t say the same the same for most Americans.

One thing that I hope comes along with adoption of these new cars, EV's, PHEVs, etc is that the "think" message comes with them. These are more high-profile and attention getting than just buying a cheap high fuel mileage car so they carry a message with them. The Prius promoted itself as an eco-minded transport and there are hundreds of thousands of little flagships out there, the Volt's branding has been wish-washy at best "Why are you at a gas station, do you have to take a wizz?" but it's actual functional aspect is so different it can't help but impact the person owning it. They'll start to wonder the cost difference between plugging in and just filling it with gas, they might think of charging at work - other people will see them charging, or driving, and ask questions. The questions they ask might generate other questions - the ball starts rolling. We're probably out of time at this point but eh, it's something.

One of the big problems with the Volt's branding is that GM's hands are tied. Imagine the commercial where the Chevy Volt is draped in patriotism with the message of helping America be stronger by reducing its reliance on foreign oil. It's a good message and would probably play well...but what happens when a minute later there's another GM ad for an EarthPounder Xtreem SUV. They still get the bulk of their money from truck sales so they can't work that aspect.

Bob Lutz on Chevy Volt Marketing and the Press

Bob Lutz on U.S. Energy and Gasoline Prices: This one is interesting - denies AGW, says that everyone else is going to deny it as well "because they see what's going on" and then goes on to say that an energy glut in the US won't bring down prices because prices are set globally (they'll just export). Then talks about autonomous cars. Go figure.

One of the big problems with the Volt's branding is that GM's hands are tied. Imagine the commercial where the Chevy Volt is draped in patriotism with the message of helping America be stronger by reducing its reliance on foreign oil. It's a good message and would probably play well...but what happens when a minute later there's another GM ad for an EarthPounder Xtreem SUV. They still get the bulk of their money from truck sales so they can't work that aspect.

Not to mention that Chrysler really upped the ante with this magnificent exercise in Super Bowl propaganda, promoting their little RAM pickup to the true believers, of oh so many stripes!


They sure made all you Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt fans look like a bunch of depressed lazy a$$ed atheist whackos, standing around with 'Repent The End Is Near' signs.

They sure made all you Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt fans look like a bunch of depressed lazy a$$ed atheist whackos, standing around with 'Repent The End Is Near' signs.

Had to grin at that one Fred, since, I am an EV fan (as far as cars go), and sure enough am depressed, lazy, and atheist.

Thanks for the laugh this morning. I love your posts.

Riban, don't tell anyone, I'm a depressed, lazy atheist myself >;-)

It is not death and starvation that we the world has to work where we live. From my POV it is an abomination to drive 100mi to and from work - no matter what - if not because of the energy consumption then because of the wasted life time(s)... Ugh... To me its like torture having to drive that far to work - i bet not many actually like it. So that change will bring huge improvements in peoples life and well as reducing energy consumption.

Next: The charging time can be brought significantly down with the improved distribution system - OR a capacitor type battery. For example a 5KW EV driven at maximum power for 6 hours would require about 3 hours (in Europe) to charge. This is not prohibitive - just an inconvenience for a few that uses the car excessively anyway.

Next: The production time, cost of solarcells and their efficiency are increasing in all sorts of ways very rapidly. As well as cheap abundant materials found useful for this application.

Next: The really easy way out of our current predicament is to drop dead. You will find not many will approve of the honor of being chosen to be the solution. So the easy way is not an option. War is the only path that seems to honour human tradition and political intelligence.. That is rather sad, but there we are...

As you might be aware of now - I am fully in the "doomer" category - however, i am not being depressed about it. I see it as a new start for whomever survives and hopes that we can deliver those people enough history, knowledge technology to make their life a good life and a possible more enlightened world while still leaving them some resources to tap. The way the world is functioning today is not IMHO worthy of extending. Actually, I believe it would have been better for our descendants that we had crashed already.

Next: What I took notice of in a previous drumbeat was a statement with the words to the effect of:
The worst thing that could happen is that humankind finds an inexhaustible energy resource. Because then we will truly devastate the earth - making any following civilisation very difficult.

And I do believe we have the power to make it uninhabitable - if we found that energy source.

So pretend that it is your kids that survives - wouldnt you want them to have the best new start? - So lets deliver them the knowledge needed to not be dependent on fossil fuels.

Concerning the internal resistance:

160V Ultracapacitor Module
Maxwell Technologies 160V Ultracapacitor module is rated for 160V and 5.8F capacitance. The 160V Ultracapacitor module features passive balancing and a -40°C to 65°C temperature range. Applications range from wind pitch control for wind energy sytems, short-term UPS, to other renewable energy systems.
end quote.

5mOhms doesnt seem like much - and they have to be parallel coupled (series for voltage of course).. Anyway.. its future tech - lets see what happens. It sure is exciting to see the rampant desperation and realization dawning in people these days...

I would say quite a few has seen that the pond is more than ½ full.

Good batteries/caps would be very useful of course, even if it would be a shame to waste them on perpetuating the automobile.

Funny - I'm presently working to see if I can remove most electrolytic caps from our products, as they are by far the shortest lifetime of any component. Kinda tough when you need energy storage though.

Electrolytic capacitors are notorious for ruining lifetime of products ! I also hate them :-)
The supercaps are too expensive and might not have the correct specifications for your usage - reaction time - lifetime of charges.
The organic ones are pretty expensive and limited in voltage (if its still like that)
The ceramic ones are too small in capacity...

And then there is the temperature ranges changing the properties !! NP0 here we come... Oh it doesnt exist.. bummer...

Life is a bitch and capacitors make it shorter :-D

Perhaps I can give you some advice if you tell me the specifications you need for the application?
Lifetime req, response time, internal resistance, capacity, voltage, current, ripple?

Or maybe the general area of the situation where its needed - if you dare? :D

Thanks, but it is a pretty straightforward design issue. The problems come in those situations where you simply need bulk energy storage, such as a rectifier on a 50/60Hz line signal. Even with a full wave bridge the voltage just goes away for a (relatively) very long time. I played around with using inductors to store that energy, but the size and price required becomes absurd quickly. The rest is just improving loop responses, increasing switching frequencies and going to other capacitor constructions. The newer stacked multi-layer ceramics are pretty decent for some bulk storage applications and can be distributed around on a circuit board, but you do have to account for the temperature coefficients. I eliminated tantalum caps on new designs a couple of years ago due to political/ecological and supply concerns - plus they're intolerant of any abuse.

Utility substations run on 125Vdc station batteries for the most part, even if they require the device to run on AC as well. So while I may not be able to eliminate all electrolytic caps I can make it so that in the majority of applications it won't matter if the remaining front end cap works or not. That will increase the effective useful life of the product by several multiples - basically extending it past the working life of the power grid in my opinion.

The switching time increase is a good way to minimize the components. It seems you are right on track with all your ideas.

At Siemens it was mandatory to not use tantalum - it seems like its a big issue for the companies - but really not a problem in most applications to avoid. I guess its a worldwide fixation we have here. :-)

The only problem i can see is the failure mode of those front end caps - while im not sure how you have coupled them - the failure mode (in my experience) of dry capacitors is often short-circuit.

Alternatively you might also violate some EMC standards on what noise that is allowed onto the net and external noise suceptibility of the device might increase prohibitively - again just guessing at where and how you are using them.

But you seem to be on top of the thing. See you in the next drumbeat.

An ultracap in parallel with a battery would be useful for smoothing out power spikes, as in demand for quick acceleration or quick braking. They wouldn't help do a rapid charge, because they can't contain enough energy, but they could take some of the abuse off of a battery system.

I agree - it could be interesting to calculate on with the new types. Last time (some years ago) i checked the cost was too large, but it would be a real good and cool solution.

I know the using of a spinning wheel to store braking energy is very efficient and has been proven in use. I don't know why they aren't more popular - I have heard some stories, but none that seem to disqualify them.. Anyway not more than using gasoline in a car. :-)

we, of course, has THE BIG problem: Producing the required amounts of electricity.

At what price point for installed solar PV would you acknowledge that this isn't an insurmountable problem? $4. a watt? $2.?

It isn't the solar power that is the cost limitation for wide EV adoption, it's the sticker shock for the car, and is there any reason to expect that the price won't decline with time, wider adoption, and with luck, battery advances such as lithium air?

Electric cars won't work for everyone, but if you look at actual vehicle usage statistics for the U.S., they already have plenty of range for most U.S. drivers.

One friend of mine who is a Leaf owner in California recently ran out of gas when driving her husband's ICE car. She said that she's so used to driving away from the house with a fully charged car, that she didn't even think about it. Having to stop and fuel up with petrol feels burdensome to them now after a year and a half with their electric, which they love.

My next car will be electric, and when I buy or lease it I will also finance a roof mounted PV array to power it. Incidentally, for my driving needs, and the domestic load for myself and the three other apartments under my roof, a 4kW array will be sufficient.

To be sure, I'd prefer to live somewhere that a car is not necessary. That isn't my situation though, so I look forward to the day that I slap a pair of bumper stickers on my EV; one that reads "100% solar powered" and the other: "The only good engine is a dead engine".

Hi Dear Riban.

That is a really tough question.

Im sorry that i do not know english well enough to completely understand what you write:
What is sticker shock? Is that the price tag?

The price is really difficult to ascertain due to many factors: First of all - not all can be realized at current pricetags - there will be a transition period that i expect could take 20 years or more. In this timeframe much will change.

The acceptable price tag will vary from country to country. No everyone is equally rich.

Your first question:
At what price point for installed solar PV would you acknowledge that this isn't an insurmountable problem? $4. a watt? $2.?

The current pricetag at bulk amounts of PV from my personal current favorite nanosolar is below 1$ last i checked - I have purchased them at 56cents / watt. And once they have paid off their debts and ended significant improvements to their production they claim it will be 10 cents / watt.

At the 10cent/W price tag i believe everybody can have PV in the western world - and once "we" have it - it will spread to poorer places - that required much less energy anyway.

Its only a matter of will - to make the investments - perhaps it will take a presidential order to make it happen. I would do that if I were president.

I think its very realistic that the range for EVs will go up significantly - outdoing the ICE eventually. But it will take much more time. Time that we probably do not have. And your (good) idea to mount extra panels on top of the car proves the point. This is an obvious improvement. Imagine you used 40% efficiency panels for that ! But here i have to support Twilight somewhat: The current EVs are a waste of energy and i hope we do not invest too much in the current technology. But so is most things at the start. You don't just jump from knowing nothing to knowing and doing everything in one move. We need that - but it wont happen realistically. So we will inch our way forward as usual.

However.. Producing and implementing the panels themselves are only a small part of the electrical revolution needed for EVs. The storage is paramount.

But there are possibilities: One is large reservoirs of water pumped up during day and used during night.
It could also be the opposite: pumping out- I think It has been mentioned here on Drumbeat?

Also there is the much improved electrolysis of water. - I think I read 80-90% efficiency.

So we have reasonable solutions.

The real problem is: How do we convince the policians and Mr. and Miss. America that instead of desperately boosting the whole economy and creating McJobs we have to put a lot of our eggs in one basket and make a clean world with abundant energy. At the possible cost of more suffering right now.

Again - this is just a small part of numerous problems we face...

A problem with nanosolar is that they use CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenium if i remember correctly) - a host of expensive and rare metals. But there are other solutions coming made from inexpensive abundant materials.

I forgot your second question somewhat:
It isn't the solar power that is the cost limitation for wide EV adoption, it's the sticker shock for the car, and is there any reason to expect that the price won't decline with time, wider adoption, and with luck, battery advances such as lithium air?

The price will not go down significantly. I think that the major part of the current EV price is materials - not labor. Wages, I believe, are sure to plummit, since we have a large population of well-educated indians and chinese that currently require much smaller wages and less excessive lifestyles. I also believe that the population pressure greatly reduces the value of human labor and value of life.

While energy become more expensive, so does food - and so does human labor. So its not a good outlook. I dont think we will see massive increased in mining and refinery workers doing manual labor.

This means that all resources will increase in cost comparatively to the income of people. But the US still has the opportunity already to make the leap fairly fast.

If we had started the transistion while resources base and extraction rate were increasing - things would have been much much better. Not the transition will be made while increasing human suffering. Which is going to be very hard on very many.

Its interesting to see, if the US military will prove to be the decisive factor in maintaining the american way of living.. Which your previous president said was non-negotiable :-) - an obvious threat to any who has something the US wants.

But again.. there are possibilities in new technology that will reduce the costs - as i mentioned earlier. The question: Will it outweigh the factors going in the opposite direction. To that i have no clue. But i know that this place is one of the best to ask these questions - since theoildrum has some FANTASTIC people arguing and number crunching. They are the reason im here - reading year after year...

I wish I were half as cool as Rockman, RockymountainGuy, Gail the actuary, Leanan and a lot of other heroes here on this site. Sorry for not mentioning everybody..

Came across this posting in Worthwhile Canadian Initiative the other day...

What is going on with the Bank of Canada's balance sheet?

The Bank of Canada expanded its balance sheet during the financial crisis as part of the government's strategy to provide short-term liquidity to the financial system - in particular by securities purchased under resale agreements (SPRA). This was wound down as financial markets recovered. But over the past two years, the Bank of Canada's holdings of Government of Canada bonds has gone from around $33b to $56b.

The increase on the liabilities side is in the government's deposits at the Bank of Canada:

In the comments of the WCI post genauer says...

This Canadian QE starts mid 2011, just at the time the CAD hit 1.05 to the USD.

Since then Carney was de facto running a 1.00 peg. And in order to not getting swamped by flight money, you have to mimick, whatever your peg is doing, whether it makes sense for you or not.

To run this peg is a good idea, because otherwise you kill your normal industries, which is bad, when one day the commodity boom runs out. The typical dutch disease problem.

and JP Konig says...

Government deposits at the BoC are rising because the BoC is directly funding the government's Prudential Liquidity Management Plan.

and JP Konig replies to a question from another commenter...

"what the main driver behind the PLMP?"

Potential funding problems. They've never really gone into the specifics of what might set off the funding problems that they're preparing for. Details on the reasoning behind the program are scarce. I've wondered why the government feels they need to build this stock of liquidity ahead of time since, as they're currently demonstrating, they can turn to the BoC to fund themselves whenever they want.

genauer in the comments responds to criticism of his suggestion of "Dutch Disease"...

I did not mean that you have dutch disease, but that Canada did not get it, because Carney did in time the reasonable thing, implicit peg. But that made Carney basically a copy boy, no wonder that he looked for a different job : - )

I thought the Governor of the Bank of Canada was independent, but JP Konig on his Moneyness blog sets me straight...

Canadian monetary policy is set via an ongoing conversation between the Prime Minister, his/her agent the Minister of Finance, and the Governor of the Bank of Canada. This joint conversation happens because unlike Japan, Europe, or the US, the Finance Minister has the legislated power to fire the Governor of the BoC before his/her term is up. The minister must provide a public (and potentially embarrassing) explanation for doing so. As a result both minister and governor are incentivized to cobble policy jointly.

So whatever policy we've had in Canada since 2008, you can be sure that there's a bit of PM Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty mixed in with the Carney. Did we ever really know the man? With Carney leaving but the other two sticking around, will there be much of a difference going forward?

So why the PLMP...

Prudential Liquidity Management: What is this all about?

Buried in Annex 2 of Budget 2011, the Government announced changes to its debt management strategy. It proposes to increase its holdings of “liquid financial assets” by $35 billion in the form of domestic cash deposits and foreign exchange reserves. What does this mean and why is it doing this now.

The Government argues that cash reserves need to be increased in the event that normal access to financial markets is disrupted or delayed. With this increase in cash reserves, the Government would have sufficient cash on hand to cover at least one month of net cash requirements. It proposes to increase its holding of cash in financial institutions and with the Bank of Canada by about $25 billion (for first ten months of 2010-11, cash balances averaged about $12 billion), with the remainder held in US$ in the Foreign Exchange Fund Account. Reserves in this Account would continue to rise in order to maintain a level at or above 3 per cent of nominal GDP.

Are Flaherty and Harper pegging the Loonie to the Greenback? Is the PLMP meant to keep "Dutch disease" at bay by buying up foreign cash when the need arises?

Dollar pegs aren't without criticism.

aws - damn. I hadn't paid much attention to it, but I had vaguely kinda sorta thought the Canadian banking system had retained enough of our Glass-Steagall sort of controls that it wasn't as rickety as ours. And I suspect it still isn't (after all, ours is a complete fiasco), but it appears even Canada struggles with the mighty reserve banking monster.

That beast lurks everywhere. Sigh.

It's not as mysterious as it appears. Reading between the lines, it appears that the Canadian government is concerned that something is going to go wrong in the world economy (e.g. Spain or Italy will go bankrupt) and it wants to have extra cash on hand to cover any contingencies arising from that.

Given the cozy relationship between the BoC and the Canadian government, it is a pretty simple process. The BoC lends the government $35 billion and gets government bonds in return. Where does the BoC get the $35 billion? Nowhere, it just creates it out of thin air. What does the government do with the money? Nothing, it just puts it in its vaults for a rainy day. Since no money is spent, the net effect on the Canadian economy is zero, and the BoC is not concerned about its effect on the value of the dollar. The Canadian government, though, now has an extra $35 billion to deal with any global financial crisis.

Having discussed this over tea, the Finance Minister and the Governor of the BoC now return to their respective offices and tell their respective staffs to make it all happen. Another potential crisis is averted well in advance of its hypothetical occurence. This is much better than the mostly self-inflicted financial crises that the US government and banking system have been experiencing lately.

Possible rainy day scenario: Use that $35 billion of cash to buy greenbacks to keep a rising Loonie from hammering non-resource based Canadian exporters!

From JP Koning's comment in my original post...

"I've wondered why the government feels they need to build this stock of liquidity ahead of time since, as they're currently demonstrating, they can turn to the BoC to fund themselves whenever they want.

From one of Konig's blog discussions on this...

As part of the June 2011 Budget,...
--- snip ---
Of this $35 billion in extra liquidity, $10 billion was to be allocated to foreign reserves (primarily US dollar denominated)

Buying $10 billion in greenbacks with Loonies surely should suppress the value of the Loonie?

Possible rainy day scenario: Use that $35 billion of cash to buy greenbacks to keep a rising Loonie from hammering non-resource based Canadian exporters!

That's the Dutch Disease hypothesis. Senior Canadian government officials have made it pretty clear that they don't believe in it, so they aren't going to do any such thing. Their objective is to maintain a stable level of the Canadian dollar, and they don't really care what that level is with respect to the US dollar. At the moment it is trading close to par, but that is really just a coincidence.

A $10 billion, primarily US dollar denominated, foreign reserves coincidence?

That's the Dutch Disease hypothesis. Senior Canadian government officials have made it pretty clear that they don't believe in it

Why would they say they did believe in it?

Half the job of someone like the governor of the BoC is to soothe investors concerns and fears, and to not raise any new ones.

In the previous Drumbeat Rockman wrote:

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.

Now I read:

HSBC: Oil majors at risk from 'unburnable' reserves

Oil and gas majors, including, BP, Shell, and Statoil, could face a loss in market value of up to 60 per cent should the international community stick to its agreed emission reduction targets, analysts at HSBC have warned.

A new report from the banking giant finds that 17 per cent of Norwegian company Statoil's reserves would become "unburnable" in a world where oil and gas use falls as countries seek to keep carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), the level the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates is necessary to deliver a 50 per cent chance of limiting long-term temperature rises to 2°C.

However, HSBC believes a bigger risk to the sector's value comes in the shape of reduced demand potentially leading to lower oil and gas prices, whereupon the potential value at risk for leading fossil fuel firms could rise to between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of current market capitalisation. BP's market capitalisation currently stands at around £90bn, compared to Shell's £147bn, Statoil's £53bn and BG Group's £39bn.

The report notes 60 per cent of Shell's oil sand reserves have already been written off as "non-commercial" by the market.

Seems like a good reason to fuel the climate change denial movement some more including buying government officials (senate, congress, etc.).

Styno - In reality I don't think an increase in AGW denial is required. As I've said before I have no doubt many of the deniers don't believe their own claims...at least not fully. Many, including politicians and corporate leaders as well as the general public, just don't want to admit they are putting immediate economic considerations ahead on the environment. Even though I did throw political and environmental circumstances in there in the end economics will still be the priority IMHO.

How much of those oil/NG reserves be downgraded in the future? Only those which aren't economic to develop under the then current pricing parameters. But that's nothing new for US pubcos. Each time the new annual report is done reserves are qualified (downgraded and upgraded) based on the accepted price platforms at that time. US speculative reserves as well of those of foreign companies/NOC's will always be subject to revisions but those numbers are not very solid to begin with.

The new retort from Oil-Qaeda is "we sell them oil because they want to die, they demand death."

Any votes on the best ebikes? Looks like they are going mainstream, but there is also lots O Junk. Friend just got a pair of Strides from West Marine. They don't re-gen. Sad. The world is not flat.

Potential for 'Superquakes' Underestimated, Recent Earthquakes Show

The earthquakes that rocked Tohoku, Japan in 2011, Sumatra in 2004 and Chile in 1960 — all of magnitude 9.0 or greater — should not have happened, according to seismologist's theories of earthquake cycles. And that might mean earthquake prediction needs an overhaul, some researchers say.

... "These areas had been written off as places incapable of producing a great earthquake," said Chris Goldfinger, a marine geologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

But the events of 1960, 2004 and 2011 showed that these faults were capable of producing some of the most destructive earthquakes in recorded history, suggesting earthquake researchers need to re-think aspects of how they evaluate a fault's earthquake potential.

Kind of makes you wonder if Cascadia is going to be next.

Potential for 'Superquakes' Underestimated

http://urbansurvival.com/week.htm (alas this URL changes over time)

I've mentioned this to you before: Suggesting that we could have a "global tectonic plate "lock-up" which would then (in theory) become to precedent for either mega-quakes, a slight shift in the earth's pole (think of it as crustal-shift lite), a global coastal event --- OR all the above in whatever proportions it works out to. Check out two charts in particular - the Magnitude 3 (and larger) and the Mag. 6 (and larger) - the trend - which I'll refer to as "LOCK-UP") is readily apparent:

And one doomsayer claims that after Ricter's death the scale was bumped up by 1 such that a 7.0 of Richter's lifetime is now an 8. Alas, I can't find conformation of such.

I wonder how they came to think these things DIDN'T happen; Tohoku has a long history of serious earthquakes and tsunami, with written records of them that date back over 1000 years. You can't exactly get the magnitude from these records, but they point pretty clearly to "bad news, serious earthquakes". The Indonesia area as well should have records that date back many centuries.

Records? Who needs records when there is a stick in the ground that says 'don't build below here'. They did.


That was for tsunamis, not earthquakes. Tsunamis can affect places far from where the earthquake happened, so a history of tsunamis does not mean a history of catastrophic quakes.

True, but a leading cause of tsunamis is earthquakes and such warnings are an indication that something BIG happens. It should be something looked at with that uh-oh feeling. When Pinatubo went up the geologists trying to predict it flew around the area. They saw the huge depth of the ash layers from gulleys cut by water. It made them realise that something BIG was about to take place. As should the flood markers.


I'm just saying...a history of tsunamis at Tohaku doesn't necessarily mean a history of catastrophic quakes there.

Hawaii has a history of devastating tsunamis, but not devastating earthquakes. You don't see the type of quake-resistant engineering in Honolulu that you see in San Francisco or Tokyo; it's not needed.

The quakes that generated the killer tsunamis in Hawaii happened far away. The Aleutian islands for one, Chile for another.

How Google's Buses Are Ruining San Francisco

(hmmm, and i thot mass trans is a good thing)

Google buses are not mass transit. They are more like over sized limos for employees.

Look, the corporations have taken over. There's very little that municipalities, or any governments, can do right now.

The culture of the tech workers is not progressive. It's corporate, through and through.

This is so true. Even "government" has been privatized now. We are so well and truly screwed.

the corporations have taken over

Ipso Facto. No doubt when Monsanto and their GMO's are allowed, or Aspartame (no sugar) absolute garbage for the body is given carte blanche to be added to products, or MSG, or using slave labor in foreign countries--the list goes on and on, which shows our govt. has taken a hands off approach to corporate exploitation. A homage being paid to corporations for their campaign contributions.

New from Chatham House ... Oil in Uganda: International Lessons for Success

•The oil era is dawning in Uganda. It has the potential to accelerate development and drive the country's transformation into a regional – and even global – economic player. But oil also brings risks – of the erosion of the relationship between people and government, of economic distortion, of increased corruption and of internal tensions.

•Uganda has time on its side. Though geography and the technical challenges of extracting 'waxy' on-shore oil mean that production has not yet begun, and full capacity is unlikely to be reached before 2020, the relatively slow pace of oil development is an advantage as well as a frustration. [... sounds like they're putting lipstick on a pig]

•Debate over the management of Uganda's oil is already intense in the country, and has been the subject of considerable controversy. It is incumbent on all stakeholders – government, opposition and civil society alike – to rise above the politics of today and look to the long term.

Download paper here

Download Executive Summary here

China frigate locked radar on Japan navy: minister

TOKYO — A Chinese military frigate locked weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese navy vessel, Tokyo's defence minister said Tuesday, in an apparent upping of the stakes in a bitter territorial row.

"On January 30, something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea," Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.

Onodera said a Japanese military helicopter was also locked with a similar radar on January 19.

"Directing such radar is very abnormal," he said. "We recognise it could create a very dangerous situation if a single misstep occurred.

Admiral Josh Painter: This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.

Jeffrey Pelt: It would be well for your government to consider that having your ships and ours, your aircraft and ours, in such proximity... is inherently DANGEROUS. Wars have begun that way, Mr. Ambassador. - - Hunt for Red October

Hearing that familiar line in my head with the Dulcet and Smoky tones of Sen. Fred Thompson's (R-TN) voice doesn't seem to soothe my worries much at all. (Could one say 'Still-Acting Senator, Ret'd' .. ?)

New Numbers Hone In On Soil Carbon Uptake (Bad News)

New research shows that of an estimated 550 GtC (gigatonnes of carbon) previously modeled to be stored in soil, leaf litter, and plant biomass between 1860 and 2100 (using the leading climate models to run the A1B scenario of emissions), 25%, actually won't be. This equates to 14 additional years worth of human emissions at 2012 rates being injected into the atmosphere over the coming years. This process is already happening, like in England. Baring a deus ex machina discovery about the climate system, this latest finding is confirmation of some of our worst fears. The worst-case scenarios, the old A1FI and the new RCP8.5, can now be said to be very likely, if not all-but guaranteed. The damage and destruction from either scenario could easily approach or exceed that of a global nuclear war by 2100. As bad as this sounds, things can always get worse.

Instead of getting absorbed by the soil-plant system, 137.5 GtC will be left in the air.

The team's work shows that phosphorus and nitrogen limitations in soils around the world will actually make plants unable to use as much carbon dioxide as has been assumed in global climate models - at least up until now. So brace yourself for some much scarier looking model forecasts.

Instead of continuing to add more and more mass, plants around the world will plateau. Or for other climate reasons (i.e. high temperatures) they will decline in primary productivity. Primary productivity is a term used for the amount of growth (productivity) by plants/via photosynthesis. [... peak plants]

... the published paper by Goll et al. shows that under the A1B scenario, adjusting for the new information, global average temperatures will be 2°C (3.6°F) warmer by 2100 than previous results have indicated. This is huge. And this isn't all. ...

Full Paper: Nutrient limitation reduces land carbon uptake in simulations with a model of combined carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling or Abstract

This is NOT good news.

Coupled with the projected albedo and permafrost loss in the arctic, it will be very hard to keep global temps below 6°C this century.

137.5 GtC

application rates can be up to five times minimum rate depending on your starting soil conditions, Biochar can be safely re-applied each year to slowly increase carbon rates and increase your soils mineral and water holding capabilities, Biochar should be used as part of a soil improvement program, adding compost, worm castings, mineral rock dusts with Biochar will all benefit growing soils.
An application rate of 100g/m2 works out to 1,000kg/hectare

Hectares > Arable Land statistics - countries compared worldwide ...
Weighted average for all countries: 6859647.2 hectares

1 short ton = 0.90718474 megagrams

lets just say 1=1 on the tonnage.

6859647 of cropland for 1 megagram of Carbon.

That pencils out to a factor of 50000 times annual production.

Wood char is 'bout 30% of dry weight. It should be less for yearly crops like grass.

So if you can find enough organic material to char and THEN find enough energy to place that resulting char into the soil one could balance the equation of Carbon in the air VS Carbon being "locked" back up in the soil.

That will only get you back down to 4 degrees C. This feedback is in addition to our current predicament

Changing understanding of albedo doesn't add extra in 2100, it was projected to have melted by 2100 under those scenarios anyway. Melting arctic means that some of the heating previously projected for 2040-2075 will happen in the next decade, but doesn't change the 2100 estimates.

I'm not sure that albedo effect was included in the models for IPCC 4AR. It was noted, but there was no specific timetable or curve indicating change in albedo vs time.

There are actually many steps to decreasing albedo.
On water, dry snow covered ice: very reflective => wet snow, not quite as much => puddles on the ice (a lot less) => open water.
And then how early in the season do these changes occur? Melting out in September, not too much sunlight will be absorbed on an annual basis. Melting out in July, quite a bit more solar energy absorbed. Melting out in May = a great deal absorbed.

On land its even more complicated: dry then wet snow, then several year old wet snow, then dirty old ice, then bare ground, then shrubs grow, and that cuts wintertime albedo, then trees grow.... So we will have arctic/subarctic areas changing their albedo for a long time, even after the permanent ice is gone. And the land ice will be declining for centuries.

Gunmen attack oil ship in Nigeria's delta, three killed

Gunmen ambushed an Indian-owned oil barge on Tuesday as it was being escorted by the military through Nigeria's Niger Delta region, killing two soldiers and one crew member on the ship, a security forces spokesman said.

The ship belonging to Sterling Global Oil Resources, part of the Sandesara Group conglomerate, was fired on in the Angiama area of the delta, according to Onyema Nwachukwu, spokesman for mixed military and police brigades in the Niger Delta region.

Could the humble sea urchin hold the key to carbon capture?

A chance discovery that sea urchins use Nickel ions to harness carbon dioxide from the sea to grow their exoskeleton could be the key to capturing tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Experts at Newcastle University, UK, have discovered that in the presence of a Nickel catalyst, CO2 can be converted rapidly and cheaply into the harmless, solid mineral, calcium or magnesium carbonate. This discovery, which is published today in the academic journal Catalysis Science & Technology, has the potential to revolutionise the way we capture and store carbon enabling us to significantly reduce CO2 emissions – the key greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

The process developed by the Newcastle team involves passing the waste gas directly from the chimney top, through a water column rich in Nickel nano-particles and recovering the solid calcium carbonate from the bottom.

S – If this does develop into a game charger it’s interesting to see who controls the world’s nickel production:

Russia is the world's leading country for nickel production and Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel is the world's largest producer. Canada is the world's second largest nickel producing country. Australia is the world's third most important producer of nickel.

Yeh,but the U.S. has the most nickels.

I rather suspect that dissolving granite is the rate limiting step, not precipitating calcium carbonate.

You can't keep precipitating calcium carbonate unless you keep adding calcium, and unless that's coming from something like granite rather than limestone, there's no net removal of CO2.

There is a lot of calcium and magnesium in seawater - no grinding necessary.

Those same creatures that do this naturally in the sea, have seawater pretty close to equilibrium with calcium carbonate already. Not only that, but adding extra CO2 to seawater pushes the equilibrium towards solution not precipitation of calcium. It doesn't matter how good your precipitation catalyst is if the equilibrium is for dissolution not precipitation.

If we were willing to bust up several cubic miles of granite per year, then the cabonic acid in rain will do the trick. Surface mining with explosive charges is actually efficient enough that we could actually do it. But who wants a few hundred square kilometers of smashed rock landscape, and then a few hundred more next year....

Your suggestion sounds like a good reason to go back to gravel roads, provided the roads are surfaced with granite, as is done around here. Paving those roads would prevent your suggested path of CO2 removal...

E. Swanson

"You can't keep precipitating calcium carbonate unless you keep adding calcium, and unless that's coming from something like granite rather than limestone, there's no net removal of CO2."

Correct. Next biggest source of calcium is gypsum (CaSO4). But now you have to get rid of all that sulfur...

Calcium silicate? Then all you have to do is rid of the sand. And since sea level is rising, we have places to put the sand. Problem Solved!

(That last is sarcasm, just to be clear.)

I'm not going to hold my breathe waiting. So many things promised in this manner never come to be. If we did do it, thats a heck of a lot of carbonites to do something with (several cubic miles per year), and you gotta find the calcium to start with....

Scrape the soil from mountains containing a lot of calcium carbonate rock, perhaps crush the rock to increase surface area and 'Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain'. That's how the earths thermostat works (very worthwhile video, a lecture by geologist Richard Alley).

Yea but we are back to square one here, where is the incentive to capture C02 ? The way I see it unless there is a binding UN resolution or WTO agreement, anyone who doesn't capture C02 wins the economics game. Caring about the environment and future generations is a costly and messy business.

Purification on the Cheap: Cleaning 'Produced Water' From Natural Gas Wells, Potential for Improved Desalination Plants For Developing Countries

The method is a variation of the standard distillation process, in which salty water is vaporized and then condenses on a cold surface; the salt separates out during evaporation. But this process is energy-intensive—and therefore costly—because all the water must be heated to the boiling point, while the condensing surfaces must be kept cold.

In the new process, water well below the boiling point is vaporized by direct contact with a carrier gas; the moist air is subsequently bubbled through cooler water where the purified vapor condenses. But the temperature difference between the warm and cool water is much less than in conventional dehumidifiers, and the surface area provided by the small bubbles is much greater than that of a flat condenser surface, leading to a more efficient process.

The MIT team built a 12-foot-high test unit that has run continuously for weeks, producing about 700 liters of clean water a day. They have tested it using barrels of water from natural gas wells to demonstrate that it produces water clean enough to drink.


Paper giant APP promises no Indonesia deforestation

The world's third-largest paper producer Asia Pulp and Paper said Tuesday it had stopped using logs from Indonesia's natural forests, after fierce campaigning by green groups against the company.

Some island news.

Bahamas government worried over high costs of electricity

The Bahamas government says it is important to develop alternate forms of energy, complaining that the high cost is also impacting foreign investment into the country.

These are issues that concern us and let me just state it for you. The cost of electricity is an extraordinary drain and has an extraordinary impact on Bahamian families. We all agree with that," Prime Minister Perry Christie said.

Blame gov't for JPS bills - OUR boss says high energy cost is political

Outgoing head of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Ahmad Zia Mian has slammed the country's political leaders for their failure to make and implement a decision on an alternative energy source for Jamaica.

Mian has also charged that the big ticket item which Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell is banking on to achieve lower electricity rates for Jamaicans - the multibillion-dollar 360-megawatt (MW) plant to be built by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) - is dead.

So, the high cost of energy in Jamaica is a result of the action or inaction of Jamaica politicians. Has nothing to do with rising global energy prices? Riiiight! Not that electricity prices in Jamaica couldn't be lower but, I think external factors, namely rising fuel prices, have a lot to do with the increases.

Paulwell to indicate alternative energy source for Jamaica this week

The country is to know this week what alternative energy sources the Government will be pursing to diversify the energy sector and reduce the country’s oil bill.

Jamaica’s oil imports amounted to $2.4 billion in 2011.

That's J$2.4 billion at an exchange rate of about $94.30 to the US$. The exchange rate has been making US dollars more expensive for Jamaicans since late last year.I guess that's one method of curbing demand for imports.:-/

Alan from the islands

It seems to me that tropical island nations are generally perfect places for PV and decent for wind in most cases too. It's a shame that nobody is going all-in for it yet, but at least here in Hawaii it seems to be picking up steam. Here we don't even really need A/C in most places... Theoretically, we should have lower energy needs that could fit within a renewable budget.

It looks like all the island places got sold the same thing, oil burning power plants. So we're the first losers with high oil prices.

I've spent a fair bit of time on tropical islands, the wind is what I notice, the sun is, well, tropical. I thought Kwajelein would be one of the first 'renewable' islands, but one reference says "no wind turbines have lasted more than a few years in the Marshalls", which I find surprising (we can't build a durable turbine?) and not (remember all those hurricanes that hit Gilligan's Island?)

Here is last year's announcement of Japanese assistance for solar power

"The solar system is expected to generate about 200 kilowatts of power, about two percent of Majuro's current peak electricity usage that is now supplied by diesel-powered generators.

Japan officials confirmed that the grant for the Marshall Islands is part of a four-nation, $20 million project in the Pacific that will provide similar solar power to the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Tonga. Japan officials confirmed that the grant for the Marshall Islands is part of a four-nation, $20 million project in the Pacific that will provide similar solar power to the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and Tonga."

Still, there is solar also. I just found this short US DOD presentation from 4 years ago(PDF) which gives me a little hope (ooh, where do I get a sheet of flex PV that big?) and depressing (sensible planning from an organization devoted to blowing shiite up).


Jamaica breaks ground on rare-earth project

Researchers with Japan's Nippon Light Metal Co. Ltd. believe they have found high concentrations of rare-earth elements in the island's red mud, a byproduct of bauxite refining into alumina, the basic material for manufacturing aluminum.

Survey reveals fault lines in views on climate change

... The findings, published in the journal Organizational Studies, identify five distinct beliefs on climate change, ranging from evolutionary to economic. There were also some interesting distinctions in who believed what about the subject. Younger, female engineers employed in government seemed to support the Kyoto Protocol, whereas their older, male counterparts—largely employed by oil and gas companies—tended to take a fatalistic response to climate change, labelling nature as the culprit. However, one group gave cause for hope that consensus could be achieved, even among such diametrically opposed opinions.

"They were the smallest yet most active group," said Lefsrud. "They were quite senior and quite knowledgeable, so they saw how they could work the angles to make a 'discourse coalition.'"

Energy's Latest Battleground: Fracking For Uranium

“The U.S. is more reliant upon foreign sources of uranium than on foreign sources of oil,” says Adnani, who himself was born in Iran and looks out of place in South Texas with his sneakers and Prada vest.

America’s 104 nuclear power plants generate a vital 20% of the nation’s electricity. Back in the early 1980s the U.S. was the biggest uranium miner in the world, producing 43 million pounds a year–enough for nuclear utilities to source all the fuel they needed domestically. But today domestic production is down to 4 million pounds per year.

Perhaps worrisome, our biggest supplier is cutting us off. For the past 20 years America bought 20 million pounds a year from Russia, courtesy of dismantled nuclear weapons. But in 2013 the $8 billion Megatons to Megawatts Program comes to an end. Growing production from Kazakhstan (39 million pounds per year), Canada (18 million) and Australia (12 million) will fill the gap. But China, with 15 nuclear reactors, 26 in the works and 100 more planned, will increasingly compete for these finite supplies.

UEC’s process doesn’t take place 2 miles down. Rather, it’s dissolving uranium from just 400 feet to 800 feet down–not only from the same depths as groundwater but from the very same layers of porous rock that hold it. “By design it’s much worse than fracking,” says Houston attorney Jim Blackburn, who is suing UEC on behalf of residents near the company’s new project in Goliad, Tex. “This is intentional contamination of a water aquifer liberating not only uranium but other elements that were bound up with the sand. We know this process will contaminate groundwater; that’s the whole point of it.”

UK: Surveillance Devices to Monitor Web Traffic

The U.K. plans to install an unspecified number of spy devices along the country's telecommunications network to monitor Britons' use of overseas services such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a report published Tuesday by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.

The devices—referred to as "probes" in the report—are meant to underpin a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do online, from Skype calls with family members to visits to pornographic websites. The government argues that swift access to communications data is critical to the fight against terrorism and other high-level crime.

A key challenge for the government has been extracting that information from overseas service providers—companies based in Silicon Valley or elsewhere that might not feel obliged to comply with a British spy agency's request. It was in those cases, the committee's lawmakers said, that the surveillance devices would come in handy.

"It is important for the agencies that there is some means of accessing communications data from uncooperative overseas communications service providers," the report said.

... the sheeple can go back to sleep

Tendency to Fear Is Strong Political Influence

... "It's not that conservative people are more fearful, it's that fearful people are more conservative. People who are scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don't know, and things they don't understand, are more supportive of policies that provide them with a sense of surety and security," McDermott said.

... there are still several takeaways to the study, not least of which is how political campaigns might be manipulated to affect some people more than others.

Full Paper Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences

... so it would seem there are a lot of fearful people in Congress.

The Twilight of Petroleum



In this post, Antonio Turiel examines the perspectives of oil production in light of some often neglected parameters: the energy density, the energy yield (EROEI), and realistic estimates of new discoveries. As expected, the result are far from supporting the optimism that seems to be prevalent today.

He concludes:

"The final fact is that the petroleum era has come to its end. Petroleum will continue to be available for many decades but always in lesser quantities and in the end it will become a luxury good. Our epoch of accelerated economic development based on inexpensive petroleum is already over. It is the sunset of petroleum. And if we are unable to recognize it, it could also very well be our own."

This is the most comprehensive and logically sound analysis I have seen to date of our energy future, including all necessary elements of EROI, depletion and exploration rates and economic realities.

The only analysis absent from this report is that of what oil will be available to which countries as production declines. As I have suggested before a high proportion of oil production is already tied up in direct supplier-consumer agreements or internal consumption by producer countries.

The 140-odd small oil importers like New Zealand (where I live) with no supply agreements in place only consume about 12 million barrels a day in total, and those exports will be the first to be cut when demand tries to exceed supply.

This report must be widely read and understood by all people who are planning 'futures' as the picture it paints has dire implications for life and civilisation as we know it.


Great article! Nice to see a more informed analysis than the usual grasping at straws overly positive fracking shale spin.

I don't think the removal of volume due to EROEI is appropriate. They probably already account for that in their production estimates.

I agree but not because it may be double counted. EROEI is about the E, and E is ambigous it could be solar E, Geothermal E, natural gas E. In most cases the majority of the EI is not oil, but a cheaper form of E. So subtracting this from the charts is misleading, because all the other forms of E that are I, have not been included to start with, and are not relevant to the discussion. If we were to build a nuclear plant to power oil extraction for example then society nets an increase in oil. QED EROEI doesn't mean we get less oil.

Group pulls out of pipeline review

Coastal First Nations have left the federal review of the Northern Gateway pipeline plan, saying they've run out of money and patience.

Executive director Art Sterritt has told the panel the group representing nine aboriginal bands from the B.C. coast and Haida Gwaii has spent more than three times the amount of funding allotted by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency four years ago.

Sterritt said the approximately $280,000 they had cannot compare to the $250 million Enbridge is spending on a team of lawyers.

--- snip ---

"There is no equal playing field here today, nor has there been since this proceeding began. The evidence is not being tested and will not, as it should be," Sterritt told the three-person panel.

"It seems the only party that can afford this long and extended hearing process is Enbridge itself, and perhaps the Crown. The average citizen can't afford to be here, and certainly the Coastal First Nations can't afford it."

Canada, a democracy in name only?

Canadian diplomats defend oilsands at Maine municipal meetings

Boston Consul General Pat Binns made a presentation on a Portland city council resolution

"We've been doing a lot of organizing in towns along the pipeline route and just in the last week or so have started to see in our efforts the Canadian government and the oil industry really starting a full-court press," Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, told the CBC.

East-West pipeline project viable, premiers say

Alberta's Redford, New Brunswick's Alward tout piping bitumen eastward

Alward met with Alberta government officials in Edmonton over the past few days before touring the oilsands.

For me it was incredibly moving, just the enormity of the development that is there,” he said, adding that the environmental protections in place impressed him.

Alward noted that New Brunswick boasts the country’s largest refinery and the deepest ice-free port on the eastern seaboard.

Incredibly moving? The smokestacks of Mordor must have brought tears to his eyes.

The thing that is bringing tears to the New Brunswick premier's eyes is that North Sea Brent oil is trading at $115/bbl and OPEC oil at $113/bbl, while Western Canadian Select is selling at $66/bbl in Alberta.

New Brunswick has the largest oil refinery in Canada (Irving Oil), and if it could just get its hands on Western Canadian oil, a lot of the price difference between Brent and WCS would fall out in the refinery profit margin. Most of the profits would end up in the pockets of the Irving family, but under the Canadian tax system, a fair slice would end up in the government vaults, and that would go a long way to pay for schools, roads, and hospitals in New Brunswick.

I mean, what else is making money for them? Potatoes and cod fish aren't doing that well these days.

Quebec to review Enbridge pipeline

"We are in charge of our territory ... it's as simple as that," says provincial environment minister.

The Canadian Press Posted: Nov 15, 2012 2:37 PM ET

Don't count on the line 9 reversal being a cake walk. Nothing in it for Quebec, their two remaining refineries last I checked can't handle stuff out of the tar sands.

From Andrew Leach...

What would it take for Eastern Canada to run on Western Canadian oil?

First, most of the refinery capacity in Eastern Canada is not equipped to run heavy and high-sulphur feedstocks produced by the oilsands, although refits would be possible.

Don't count on the line 9 reversal. Environmental Defense already has a petition going. An email from Patagonia.ca notified me of the petition, only ever got notices about end of season sales from them!

Easy, send Bakken light oil to the east coast of Canada, making room in the southern line for the oil sands heavy oil.

It appears the gulf refineries are about to receive more light oil than they can handle. To the point there are plans of shipping Eagles Ford oil by ship to Canada already.


They are already shipping Bakken light oil as well as Canadian light oil to the east coast of Canada, as well as the east coast of the US. The problem is that the pipeline system doesn't exist to do this, so they are having to ship it by rail, which is much more expensive than pipelining it.

North Dakota oil is going into the same pipeline systems as Canadian oil, so it has the same problems getting to markets as Canadian oil.

Eagle Ford oil is in fact already being shipped to Canadian refineries. The fundamental difficulty with it is that it is much more expensive than Western Canadian oil. If the Eastern Canadian refineries cannot get Western Canadian oil, they are probably going to have to go out of business because they can't make any money under the current situation.

Nothing in it for Quebec, their two remaining refineries last I checked can't handle stuff out of the tar sands.

The remaining refinery in Montreal is owned by the giant oil sands producer Suncor, and it would really like to have its own oil refinery run its own oil (WCS, currently trading at $66/bbl vs. $115/bbl for North Sea Brent)

The other refinery is the Valero refinery in Quebec City, and it is putting a huge hole in Valero's profit/loss statement due to its high feedstock costs.

The bottom line is that Quebec's refineries need to run Canadian oil because it is much cheaper than imported oil. It's their only hope of making a profit. If they don't get access to Western Canadian oil, they will go out of business and Quebec will have zero refineries.