Drumbeat: February 9, 2013

Fuel industry envisions American energy independence as domestic production rises

The U.S. has discovered so much more energy than it thought it had that some now talk about the possibility for North American energy independence.

The reason? Advances in technology such as fracking, horizontal drilling and other improvements, which have increased natural gas production by 27 percent in just four years, have made the U.S. number one in gas -- with oil on its way.

"We could make OPEC ‘NOPEC’ if we really put our minds to it," says Charles Drevna of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. "We're talking decades, if not into the 100s of years, of supply in North America."

Oil Exports Trim U.S. Deficit as Fuel Gap Shrinks: Economy

Record petroleum exports helped shrink the U.S. trade deficit in December to the smallest in almost three years as America moved closer to energy self- sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

The gap narrowed 20.7 percent to $38.5 billion, the smallest since January 2010 and lower than any estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 73 economists, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Oil exports climbed $11.6 billion. Another report showed wholesale inventories unexpectedly declined in December.

Saudi-Japan oil accord on cards

Tokyo: Japan and Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement this weekend that will allow Tokyo to make emergency requests for additional supplies of crude oil, Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported in its yesterday's edition.

The agreement would set up a telephone hotline between the two governments to allow Japan to quickly seek additional oil supplies in the event of extraordinary circumstances such as terrorist attacks, unrest in the Middle East or a spike in the price of oil.

Brent Oil Rises to Nine-Month High on China

Brent crude surged to a nine-month high in London while oil in New York slipped after stronger- than-expected trade data from China signaled increased fuel demand in the world’s second-biggest consuming country.

The European benchmark grade’s premium to West Texas Intermediate oil in New York strengthened for an eighth day. China’s exports rose 25 percent in January from a year earlier and crude imports increased to an eight-month high, customs figures showed. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said oil markets will “remain tight” in the first quarter and may push prices above its forecasts.

Shell's shock move jumpstarts oil benchmark reform debate

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell upended the oil world on Friday, unilaterally rewriting the rules of the market that sets the basis of billions of dollars of oil worldwide, risking a liquidity-sapping confrontation with other actors.

In a notice published on its website, Shell said it would alter its SUKO 90 terms in the so-called Dated Brent market starting on Monday for cargoes loading in May and thereafter in a move the oil major said would bolster liquidity in the key North Sea market.

Gas lines return ahead of blizzard

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Gas lines were building again in the New York area ahead of this weekend's blizzard.

Fairfield, N.J., resident Brelyn Kirk said she saw one gas line in nearby River Edge that stretched for a mile.

Heating Oil Hits 4-Month High as Blizzard Boosts Demand

Heating oil rose to the highest level in nearly four months on speculation that a snow storm in the U.S. Northeast will boost demand for distillates and drain stockpiles on the East Coast.

Futures advanced as the National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings that stretched from Maine to New Jersey, and winter storm warnings and advisories reached south to Virginia and west to Michigan. That may increase demand for distillates and draw from East Coast supplies, which slipped almost 3 percent in the week ended Feb. 4, according to Energy Information Administration data.

State gas consumption keeps falling in October

Continuing a general trend of year-over-year declines, California gasoline consumption in October totaled 1.22 billion gallons, down 1.1 percent from the same month in 2011, according to the latest statistics released by the State Board of Equalization.

India Said to Give 250 Billion-Rupee Subsidy to State Refiners

India will give state-run refiners including Indian Oil Corp. 250 billion rupees ($4.66 billion) as compensation for selling fuels below cost in the quarter ended Dec. 31, two finance ministry officials with direct knowledge of the matter said today.

Energy Rigs in U.S. Decline for First Time in Three Weeks

Oil and gas rigs in the U.S. dropped for the first time in three weeks, Baker Hughes Inc. data show.

Total energy rigs declined by five to 1,759, according to data posted on Baker Hughes’ website. The gas count fell by three to 425, the field-services company based in Houston said. Oil rigs dropped by two to 1,330.

U.S. Halts Drilling on Gulf Wells With Flawed Bolts

Deep-water oil exploration has been disrupted from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil by the discovery of faulty bolts used in safety equipment less than three years after the worst-ever U.S. maritime crude spill.

Energy explorers such as Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Transocean Ltd. said they have been directed by U.S. regulators to suspend work aboard rigs that employ General Electric Co. devices connecting drilling tubes to safety gear and the seafloor. The equipment must be retrieved so defective bolts can be replaced, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in an alert issued on Jan. 29.

Gazprom refund for customers

MOSCOW: Gazprom, the world's top gas producer, expects to hand $4.7 billion in price cuts to European consumers this year, company officials said yesterday, and vowed to make good on dividend promises despite the cash flow hit.

Customers and competitors have been pressing the state-controlled company to cut its prices in Europe, where it generates nearly 60 per cent of its revenues from gas sales.

Cameroon state oil chief sees 2013 crude production up 9 pct

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon's oil production is expected to rise 9 percent in 2013 as new wells came into production, the head of the central African nation's state oil company SNH said on Friday.

The country's modest oil production rose 3.5 percent in 2012 to 22.37 million barrels last year as new wells came on-stream after slumping the previous years due to mature wells.

Energy Minister Chris Bentley leaving politics

Bentley was caught in the controversy surrounding the Liberal government's decision to cancel gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga in the midst of the 2011 election campaign.

Experts: Africa's Energy Facilities Could Face More Sophisticated Attacks

Oil prices jumped when terrorists launched a deadly attack on a major energy facility in Algeria recently. Some experts believe more attacks are likely, and the weapons and tactics used will probably become more sophisticated.

Terrorists with links to al-Qaida stormed a gas production complex in Algeria in January. They wrecked equipment and took hostages. Government forces re-took the facility, but not before 37 hostages were killed.

Syrian president reshuffles economic Cabinet posts

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad reshuffled his Cabinet on Saturday, appointing seven new ministers in a move that appeared aimed at trying to shore up an economy that has been ravaged by the country's 2-year-old revolt, state media said.

State TV said Assad replaced the heads of the oil, finance, social affairs, labor, housing, public works and agriculture ministries. Key security ministries such as defense and interior, which are on the front lines of the civil war, remained unchanged.

Turkey says Syrian refugee spending exceeds $600 mln

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey has already spent more than $600 million in taking care of Syrian refugees that have taken shelter in the country, vowing that Ankara's "open-door" policy will continue Today`s Zaman reported.

World powers should reject stolen crude oil- NSCDC boss

World powers must agree not to purchase stolen crude oil to help Nigeria in the fight against oil thieves and vandals, the Commandant-General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has said.

Weapons seizure in Yemen shines light on Iran's attempts to destabilize region

A recent shipment of weapons intercepted in Yemen, including surface-to-air missiles, shows Iran’s determination to further destabilize the region, according to the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Victim of Pemex explosion dies at hospital, death toll rises to 38

Executives at Pemex have said a water-heating system may have leaked methane gas into a tunnel beneath the headquarters for more than seven months. They say the blast could have been set off by a maintenance crew's improvised lighting system.

Mexico Health Dept says Pemex death toll remains at 37 despite its report listing new death

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s federal Health Department said Friday night that a statement it issued earlier in the day listing a death of a person injured by last week’s explosion at the headquarters of the country’s state-owned oil company did not mean the disaster’s death toll had risen from 37.

Gas-Rich Groningen Province in Netherlands Hit by New Earthquake

The Dutch province of Groningen, which sits on the Slochteren gas deposit, was hit by another earthquake as pressure grows on Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. to cut output amid forecasts of heavier temblors.

Is Keystone XL Obama’s line in the sand?

Here are President Barack Obama’s words from his second inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Thence followed 10 sentences about climate change.

In Edmonton and Ottawa, where governments had grown confident that Mr. Obama, once re-elected, would give the green light to the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s bitumen oil deposits to the Gulf of Mexico, those sentences were at least worrisome, if not menacing.

Kerry promises 'fair, transparent' review of planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday promised a "fair and transparent" review of a Canadian company's plan to pipe oil from western Canada to refineries in Texas.

In his first comments about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline since becoming secretary of state, Kerry said he is waiting for a review begun by his predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and hopes to make a decision in the "near term." The State Department has jurisdiction over the $7 billion pipeline because it crosses an international border.

Tribunal presses Ecuador to halt Chevron case enforcement

(Reuters) - An international tribunal arbitrating Chevron Corp's long-running legal dispute over pollution in Ecuador has found the country violated the panel's previous order to do all it could to prevent enforcement of a contested $19 billion judgment against the company.

The tribunal, acting under The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration, said the Ecuador government should have stopped plaintiffs in the case from going to courts in Brazil, Argentina and Canada to try to collect the judgment handed down by an Ecuadorean court in 2011.

Exelon chief: Wind-power subsidies could threaten nuclear plants

Exelon Corp. Chief Executive Christopher Crane said Thursday that the rapid pace of subsidized wind-generated electric power could ultimately force it to shutter nuclear plants.

"What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants," Crane said in an interview.

ExxonMobil Mistrial Request Denied in New Hampshire Case

ExxonMobil Corp.’s request for a mistrial in a lawsuit brought by New Hampshire over the gasoline additive MTBE was denied by the trial judge in Concord, according to a court filing.

Report Faults U.S. Use of Mexican Battery Recyclers

United States companies are sending spent lead batteries to recycling plants in Mexico that do not meet American environmental standards, according to an environmental agency created under the North American Free Trade Agreement, putting Mexican communities at risk.

Global warming to bring more rain to hydro-dependent Norway

(Reuters) - Global warming is likely to bring more rain to hydro-dependent Norway, giving a further boost to power production that reached a record high last year due to ample rainfall, the government said in a report on Friday.

Norway's power generation reached 146 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2012, as hydro inflows from rain and snow melt were 5 TWh above normal, Norway's Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) said. Hydro power accounted for 97 percent of production.

Big Coal's Big Problems

You wouldn't have guessed it from all the theatrics of the 2012 election – like when Mitt Romney, who once stood in front of a coal-fired power plant and announced, "That plant kills people," turned around and campaigned on a promise to revive the coal industry – but the days of Big Coal's power have been numbered for a while now. And the prognosis may be about to get worse.

Democracy, Hacked: ‘The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,’ by Al Gore

At his best, Gore is an articulate, engaging and imaginative polymath, capable of discussing both contemporary globalization and flows of trade a millennium ago or pointing to the use of invisible ink in the Middle Ages as a precursor to modern cryptography. He shows a willingness to rethink positions and admit errors that is as rare among prophets and pundits as among politicians. In speaking, for example, about the possibility of adapting to global warming even while trying to minimize it, he writes: “For my own part, I used to argue many years ago that resources and effort put into adaptation would divert attention from the all-out push that is necessary to mitigate global warming and quickly build the political will to sharply reduce emissions of global warming pollution. I was wrong — not wrong that deniers would propose adaptation as an alternative to mitigation, but wrong in not immediately grasping the moral imperative of pursuing both policies simultaneously, in spite of the difficulty that poses.”

Sooty ships may be geoengineering by accident

GEOENGINEERING is being tested - albeit inadvertently - in the north Pacific. Soot from oil-burning ships is dumping about 1000 tonnes of soluble iron per year across 6 million square kilometres of ocean, new research has revealed.

Fertilising the world's oceans with iron has been controversially proposed as a way of sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to curb global warming. Some geoengineers claim releasing iron into the sea will stimulate plankton blooms, which absorb carbon, but ocean processes are complex and difficult to monitor in tests.

Unable to stop climate change, EPA prepares for it

“We live in a world in which the climate is changing.”

This statement from the EPA, the first line in its draft “Climate Change Adaptation Plan” [PDF] released today, is basic. But that the EPA is saying it is important.

Algeria’s oil and gas Not so jolly

Of the world’s big oil-producing regions only the North Sea’s output has dipped more steeply in the past five years. And many of Algeria’s usual markets are shrinking. North America, where refineries once paid a premium for Algeria’s high-quality crude, takes the largest dollop of the country’s 1.2m barrels a day. Now they are tapping cheaper supplies from North Dakota. Moreover, Algeria has become too reliant on high prices. To break even, its budget banks on oil at around $120 a barrel, above typical forecasts for this year; today’s price is around $116 for Brent.
Algeria’s natural gas, the other pillar of its economy, is also struggling. Sharply rising demand for electricity in the country has caught the government off guard. Last summer the power was periodically switched off to cover shortfalls. Local electricity requirements have been rising by 12% a year.

Algeria is having all kinds of problems, their oil and gas production is dropping and rebels are attacking. Last months attack on the gas plant did not affect crude output but took 50,000 barrels per day of condensate production off line. Things are only going to get worse in Algeria as the link up top indicates:
Experts: Africa's Energy Facilities Could Face More Sophisticated Attacks

Algeria produces a lot of non associated gas and therefore a lot of condensate. Condensate makes up the huge difference between the EIA's C+C data and that of the OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report which is crude only. But I have little faith in the EIA data, seeing how it goes for many months with no change whatsoever. But it seems that they updated it in October, having Algeria C+C drop from 1,550,000 to 1,480,000 bp/d. The next OPEC OMR is due out Tuesday, Feb 12, with the January crude only data.

Algeria is just one of the OPEC countries that are having serious production problems.

Algeria EIA C+C and OPEC OMR Crude Only production in kb/d. The last data points are Oct. for the EIA and Dec. for OPEC.
 photo Algeria_zps8fdea703.jpg
Ron P.

Algeria's ECI ratio (ratio of total petroleum liquids production to consumption) fell from 8.1 in 2005 to 5.0 in 2011. Extrapolating this rate of decline suggests post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) of about 8 Gb (total petroleum liquids). CNE for 2006 to 2011 inclusive were 3.5 Gb, putting estimated remaining post-2005 CNE at about 56% at the end of 2011, or 44% depleted in six years.

In terms of other liquids, the growth of biofuels really slowed down last year.
Much of this is due the share of ethanol in gasoline approaching the ‘blendwall’

It really does show how much crude oil drives the demand for other liquids.

Is there a name for this behavior, something like demand destruction carryover?

Is this what you are looking for?

Derived demand is a term in economics, where demand for one good or service occurs as a result of the demand for another intermediate/final good or service. This may occur as the former is a part of production of the second.

To use solar energy to process oil shale is mind boggling in scope. If you apply your intuition, consider what it will take to collect solar energy in the form of electricity and then use that electricity to (1) dig out that shale and process it or (2) in situ process the shale via heat and refine something approaching a liquid from the kerogen. And then to deliver it to its destination.

The fear is that is is also possible that we will figure out how to bootstrap the entire oil shale process, whereby we use the energy from the oil shale to "extract itself". That obviously is the case with crude oil, as all the energy going to extract the oil comes from oil-powered machinery and transportation.

I think that occurred also in the early days of coal extraction, but at some point the returns start to diminish. Remember that coal is barely refined before it is used.

That is the most frightening prospect in all this, that well more than half of the hydrocarbon energy becomes a kind of waste heat. This is energy that isn't necessarily wasted because it is used for processing (see the concepts of EROEI and emergy), but that is essentially wasted as overhead and not directly contributing to propelling the world's economy.

Suddenly 80+ million barrels a day turns into 200 million equivalent barrels because 120 million barrels is used to process the 80. And that is just to keep in place with the needs of a growing global economy.

That leads into Pierrehumbert's reference to the Red Queen scenario in his Slate article. The Red Queen is about running faster just to keep in place. But oil shale makes it worse, as it turns the Red Queen into a voracious cannibal, while eating any seed corn and feedstock we have left.

Pierrehumbert states at the end of his article "Temporarily cheap and abundant gas buys us some respite—which we should be using to put decarbonized energy systems in place."

Would Concentrated Solar Power thermal output be sufficiently hot to drive the pyrolysis process to extract gas and condensate from kerogen shales?

It is something worth thinking about. The analogy is essentially trying to imagine how the equivalent of a magnifying glass can concentrate enough solar radiation to separate oils buried underground from an unwieldy substrate.

This of course can't work spontaneously, so more energy is needed (and wasted) in doing all sorts of mechanical work and thermochemical reaction work.

Just guessing, but the Second Law would probably kick your butt.

Its not a closed system. The sun is gaining much more entropy (which it will do anyway), than you can remove via the oil. Depending upon the temp needed, it might not be that hard to use concentrated solar thermal to create those temps. Underground is well insulated, so you can heat the rock over several months or longer. With enough patience, -it will probably be years before you can extract the oil, it is probably feasible.

Patience is the key. Collect the highly dispersed energy sources from the sun, wind, etc. into a more concentrated form and then work with that. After all, isn't that how oil reservoirs formed in the first place?

However, growing economies have no room for patience.

I don't follow you at all, EoS. The earth is by definition a closed system: it exchanges energy but not mass with its surroundings. (Mass lost by hydrogen escape and gained by asteroid collision is negligible.) Every day the planet receives a huge amount of solar radiation, and re-radiates a portion of it back into space. That is a closed system. Perhaps you're thinking of an isolated system, where no mass or energy are exchanged?

The sun could be a closed system too, if you're willing to count solar wind as negligible mass loss, but of course it's radiating energy in all directions, and not gaining anything, but rather spending its reservoir of light elements through the process of fusion.

But I do think that solar energy could play a significant role in heating kerogen to produce oil, but I agree with Rockman--the bigger problem is extraction.

The earth is a closed system for everything except energy. The earth receives energy from the outside, the sun. The earth radiates energy back into space and these two are in near perfect balance. But not always. Sometimes more energy is radiated out and sometimes less energy is radiated out than the earth receives from the sun. For energy, the earth is an open system.

If the earth were a completely closed system then there would be no such thing as global warming... or ice ages for that matter.

Ron P.

But that's the entire definition of closed system--energy penetrates the boundaries, but matter does not! And the definition says nothing whatever about the energy content of a system. An isolated system would conserve energy by definition, because it neither gains nor loses energy. An open system conserves neither mass nor energy. And a closed system conserves mass but not energy. Global thermal energy content is free to fluctuate, since it is a closed system. It fluctuates based on any number of variables, including CO2, methane and water vapor content in the atmosphere; on the rates of tectonic movement (which influence CO2 content); and many other things.

Again, I think you're both using "closed" when you mean "isolated". And the earth is most definitely not an isolated system.

"Closed system" is an ambiguous term according to Wikipedia (the talk page is interesting).

In classical mechanics a closed system has a constant amount of energy, meaning no radiation in or out, no external tidal forces, etc. The Hamiltonian becomes a constant and positions and velocities have a particularly simple relationship. Statistical and quantum mechanics use this meaning as well, as both derive from classical mechanics.

Only thermodynamics distinguishes between different types of closed systems. Probably because the terms open and closed were originally applied to cyclic heat engines.

But that's the entire definition of closed system--energy penetrates the boundaries, but matter does not!

Okay, there are different definitions for a closed system. Wiki says one thing while Dictionary.com says another. However it makes no sense to say a closed system can admit energy or expel energy outside itself. Energy is what matters, not matter.

That has always been the creationist argument. They say evolution cannot happen because it is a decrease in entropy. Evolutionist counter that entropy always increases in a closed system but the earth is an open system because it receives energy from an outside source, the sun.

If the earth is a closed system then the creationists are correct. It is not and they are wrong.

Dictionary.com Closed System

closed system noun Thermodynamics .
a region that is isolated from its surroundings by a boundary that admits no transfer of matter or energy across it.

Ron P.

Any basic thermodynamics text will tell you that a closed system allows energy but not matter to pass its boundary. Dictionary.com is wrong. That is the definition of an isolated system. There are three tiers: (1) open; (2) closed; (3) and isolated. You are discussing an isolated system.

The creationists are fools in their idiotic assumption that the second law of thermodynamics has anything whatsoever to do with evolution. Chemical processes and, at a higher stage of organization, biologcial processes occur without any violation of the law of entropy. That entire false discussion has no place in a setting of rational, knowledge-based discourse like at this site. I'm not even certain what the structure of the argument is, except that if humans are most excellent, then we are violating thermodynamic law by appearing after less excellent, higher-entropy organisms. As least, that's my best guess as to what those people mean, because I have no interest at all in their arguments.

If the point is semantic, still, I'm insisting on the actual thermodynamic definition of a closed system, not an incorrect website reference. So if you need to switch terms--from closed to isolated--your argument remains the same. But thermodynamically, earth is a closed system. A negligible amount of matter passes its boundary while electromagnetic radiation moves in and out relatively freely.

Some examples: an open pot of water on a burner is an open system. Energy, in the form of heat, passes in (through the pot bottom) and out (through convection, radiation and evaporation). Mass passes in and out, in the form of evaporation and the motion of air. A lightbulb is a closed system. The interior of the lightbulb, and the fabric of the bulb itself, exchanges no mass with the exterior world. But energy passes in and out, in the form of electric current; additionally, heat and light pass out of the bulb (due to the filament's resistance). An example of an isolated system is a battery not under load: no matter or energy passes in or out.

If the earth is a closed system then the creationists are correct.

Not necessarily. Local decreases in entropy are permissible within a closed system so long as entropy increases in the system as a whole.

You might say a pyramid has decreased the entropy of limestone rocks, but if you add up the dispersed dust and rock chips, the used up tools and ropes, the grain digested by the workers etc etc, the pyramid-building system displays an increase in entropy.

It is not a closed system with regards energy (which is what the second law is about). That means you could construct some mechanism that either gains or loses entropy. For instance during the Cretaceous, solar energy was stored underground in hydrocarbons. In principle we could cover the planets surface with PV, converting energy into some long lasting form, decreasing the entropy of the planet in the process.
Or as we have been doing, we could consume some pre-existing store, thereby increasing the planets entropy.

Picking a nit. Burning FF's reduces entropy, covering the surface with PV in the sense you are talking about increases entropy. See the third law.

The dispersion in wind speeds already follows the second law. Given a mean wind speed, applying the maximum entropy principle results in the observed variability.
Same goes for aquatic wave height variation.
Same goes for the areal coverage of clouds, which in turn will periodically obscure the sunlight.

That is the hurdle in dealing with the second law from a source perspective. Everything is variable because nature tries to fill up all available states, mixing the low-likelihood high energy states with the higher-likelihood low-energy states.

Through a freak of nature, our crude oil supplies were given to us in a very low entropy highly ordered configuration. But even there, the second law applies, as the volume distribution of reservoir sizes follows the maximum entropy principle. The tails in the distribution ultimately become the dispersed pockets we are now essentially mining. We used up all the higher-energy configurations first, and now are left with the lower energy configurations.

The other hurdle that you refer to is one of entropic losses as we convert one energy form to another, which is needed to do all the processing of oil shales, etc,

So not only does entropy barely let us in, but it kicks our butt as we try to get out the door.

The objective really should be in how to sustainably harness the stochasticity in nature and not try to outdo it and burn ourselves into oblivion.

Here is a pic that illustrates how nature follows the Maximum Entropy Principle:

click to magnify

Web – You understand the dynamics better than me but: while the energy needed to convert to oil will certainly be a big factor but isn’t the primary problem extraction? If you did have a more efficient energy source the kerogen has to be removed from the powdered shale. And isn’t that the water issue? And if the in situ process works the oil still has to be produced from the shale rock which has no ability to flow any oil except thru fractures. So even if a cheap energy input is used for in situ do you still have to drill and frac to get it out?

Like Enemy of the State said, if one has enough patience and time, anything is possible.

Just look at what stripper wells can supply.

Like you said, maybe water will turn into the issue. But then again the economists will assert that water is just a commodity that can be interchanged with another commodity, once a specific price point is reached.

Ok, I get it.
Possible, but not in a time frame or scale to matter for us future discounted rapacious apes.

... economists will assert that water is just a commodity that can be interchanged with another commodity, once a specific price point is reached.

Maybe it's just me... I know they theorize that anything can have a substitute at some price. On the other hand, while I think my imagination is pretty good, I just cannot imagine what could reasonably substitute for water.


Small beer?

Ethanol, obviously!

Paris invests more in Oil Free Transportation

Paris is going to double their Metro. The project is called "Le Grand Paris Express" with 200 km (125 miles) of new track, 72 new stations and an expected 2 million new riders - "reducing traffic by 20% to 30%". All for 21 billion euros from 2013 to 2025.

Now they are also going to extend RER Line E for an additional 2 billion euros. This is to take pressure off RER Line A, the busiest urban rail line outside East Asia.


The RER system takes commuter rail lines from the 1800s and links them with subway tracks underneath central Paris. Largely done in the 1960s and 1970s with extensions since then.

wiki on RER

No good wiki in English of Le Grand Express, but one can autotranslate the French wiki.

Can Americans work with the speed, efficiency and determination of French Bureaucrats ?


The answer is clearly no. What has the U.S. done lately? We have spent billions and can't get even one high speed rail system started. Not that I necessarily support high speed rail given other priorities but the era of the American grand gestures and grand projects appears to be over. Could it have something to do with the fact that most of the allegedly smart people such as those who go to Harvard opt to be bankers/investment brokers instead of engineer? Maybe we could do something to encourage the French and the Chinese to move to America.

"Maybe we could do something to encourage the French and the Chinese to move to America."

But the move to finance from French engineering school graduates has happened a lot also since around the mid eighties ...

Fabrice Tourre for instance (the guy from Goldman Sachs that was prosecuted), is a graduate from "Centrale Paris".

As to these new metro lines, these are really still very much in planning stage, and I'm not even sure they would be a good investment, building a kind of ring quite far from Paris.

Oh. Thanks for the depressing news. Well,alrighty then, guess we all are headed to hell. Ok. So we just incentivise the Chinese.


The Conservatives pushed for the most cost effective design (fast, fewer stops). I have read that 1.5 million of the two million daily riders will be coming from buses. The cost savings of going from bus > Metro can justify the investment.

Much of the travel will be from one suburb to another. Only Metro Line 14, the five RER lines and a few surface tram lines will connect the suburbs with the Ile de France (central, historic Paris).

A technical question, RER Line A uses double deck cars. But how many cars long are the trains and how long are the car themselves (in meters) ?

And how does RER manage less than 2 minute headways with bi-level cars ? It seems impossible to me. Passengers take time to get from the upper level to the exit doors.

Moscow Metro has 90 second headways, the shortest in the world, but the riders there are quite disciplined. The French have many virtues, but discipline is not commonly listed as one.

Best Hopes,


Aloha Alan,

From a Dec 7, 2011 article on railway-technology.com about the new bilevel cars for RER A..."The 110m-long trainset has five cars equipped with three wide doors on each side to facilitate loading and unloading"

With regard to getting off the train; I am sure that folks migrate to the lower level prior to their stop. I doubt that the unloading time is any different than a single level car. When I was riding the Paris Metro last October, I had to make sure to be near the exit prior to my stop. One has only seconds to get off the car. Regardless of the headway, the time spent in station can't be more than 20-30 seconds.

Hello Alan,

To tell you the truth I haven't followed this project very closely, but I think the current plan "grand paris express", now includes more stops.
About the RER double decks, they are 112m long according to wikipedia for 5 cars (so around 22 meters per car) :
original ones :
newer ones :

As to the stops duration I'm not sure, but never noticed a difference with single deck ones. Also the lower deck is "very low", so you have stairs going down to lower deck and up for upper but each stairs quite short.

Moscow Metro has 90 second headways, the shortest in the world, but the riders there are quite disciplined

The automated Skytrain system Vancouver was designed in 1980's for a 90 second frequency. This has never achieved in practice because of people jamming open the doors just before the train is about to depart. Real time frequency is now one train every 108 seconds along the combined Expo/Millennium line track during rush hour.

Keep in mind the difference between headway and frequency. As far as I can tell, headway is the time between one train leaving a station and the next one arriving -- it does not account for time spent stopped at the station. Frequency is the number of trains per hour passing any point along the track.

The transit professionals that I talk with use headways in the way that you describe frequency. I cannot recall anyone using the word "frequency" in a quantitative sense (I have heard "increased frequency").

And thank all of you with information on RER Line A. Two tracks carry 55,000 people/hour in each direction with very high energy efficiency. A lane of freeway carries slightly over 1,000 people/hour.


Unfortunately, many misuse the terms Headway and Frequency.

FTA defines headway thus: Headway - The time interval between vehicles moving in the same direction on a particular route.

Frequency is not defined by FTA, but, given the definition of headway, it clearly is the measure of the number of transit vehicles per period of time.

If headway is time per vehicle, and frequency is vehicles per time, then they seem to simply be the inverse, and are thus equivalent measures (knowledge of either measure is sufficient to calculate the other).

Headway - The time interval between vehicles moving in the same direction on a particular route.

I'm assuming it is the time measured from the moment the back of the front train passes to the moment the front of the back train passes a fixed point.

Headway is akin to braking distance and fluctuates moment to moment as vehicles speed up and slow down. Frequency is vehicles per hour (or "every X minutes" -- same thing) and is scheduled.

Headway is related to safety. Frequency to capacity. They are related, but not directly. Given a 2 min headway, the maximum possible frequency would be 30 trains/hour assuming trains of zero length.

Australian (Sydney at least) double-decker trains had the lower level well below platform height, and the upper level somewhat above platform height. The stairs from upstairs or downstairs were about the same vertical displacement (and only a metre plus). So their load and unload time is pretty quick. And also - as others above have identified, people disembarking migrate to the platform-level spaces prior to the train stopping, in general.

I also suspect that the time taken in each station (60, 90, 120 seconds - whatever) is not the most critical variable in terms of running a whole system efficiently and on time ... lots of other factors are in play.

Dwell time is a critical factor, and perhaps the most manageable one.


"the era of the American grand gestures and grand projects appears to be over."

I agree. Even our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were half baked. If they were serious, we would have millions of troops on the ground and the oil would be coming here and not going to China. As it were it was just meant to keep the global corporate/financial system going a bit longer.

This is both a good and a bad thing. It's good in the sense that we aren't going to be wasting energy to do alot of unnecessary things.

It's bad because we aren't going to be using the energy to build a new infrastructure in which we can use less energy!

"Could it have something to do with the fact that most of the allegedly smart people such as those who go to Harvard opt to be bankers/investment brokers instead of engineer? "

Occasional whining to the contrary, we are not short on engineers. If we were the pay would be higher. And Management would use engineers as engineers, not as data entry clerks to feed accounting date to the computer.

Furthermore, engineers can do little without money. Big projects require big piles of money. And if you are not in finance, those are in short supply lately.

We are ruled by money, and most of the people with money started by inheriting it. Rich people were born on home base and think that they scored. Don't tell them that wealth doesn't equal smarts. Well, they're getting by with it so far.

The trouble with heirarchies: Peter Principle all the way up. Mediocrity at the top keeps merit from advancing.

The illusion of the day is that administration does the real work -- everybody else is just clerks. Buildings full of administrators create curriculae; teachers just read from the scrip. (Actual teaching may be punished as insubordination.) Look at Boeing -- they used to make airplanes. Nowadays they plan and assemble them; the actual work is contracted out. Dreamliners, anyone?

PVguy, is it really that we're awash in qualified engineers and scientists, or that there are so few jobs --and projects-- for them to earn a living doing, it *appears* that way? Has infrastructure spending and big engineering projects over the past 40 years kept pace with the enormous amounts of resources now devoted to the financial speculation and alchemy (graft, payola, lobbying, bailouts, pyramid schemes and professional gambling with OPM)? If the country's "leaders" suddenly decided to spend as much on HSR, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, rebuilding the electrical grid, etc. as they did on financial alchemy, would we still have a "surplus" of engineering labor?

There is a clip on the net with the Prime minister of Iceland. He talks about the very issue of moving a country forward, not by getting your best and brightest into finance but rather into whatever technology will maintain and advance your economy.

Hey welcome back Alan!

Have you ever seen this fantastic Website, "GetThereByTrain" mapping out how all the Rail Lines in New Jersey could be restored to LightRail and Commuter Rail service?


Apparently it was created by Michael DeMarco in 2010/2011 pretty up to date. None of the Rail gurus yet that I know have knowledge of it.

But it is an amazing Website because ALL of these proposed new LightRail or Commuter Line passenger services ALREADY have tracks or at the least Rail Rights of Way. A number of them have working tracks for freight and periodic tourist excursion trains. This could save a lot of time since the land is already Rail-banked and especially if working tracks are already there they might not upgrading and beefing up but could be running in short order. Apparently this is somewhat similar to a plan laid out when Republican Legislator and Rail advocate, Jeff Warsh was NJ Transit Head under Christie Whitman but even more extensive.

This system would basically make it possible with frequent service, proper connections and the addition of the I287/87 new Rail down the median to reach virtually ANYWHERE in North Central New Jersey with Green Transit!

This may be VERY useful :-)

It matches up with the Washington DC Metro plans (Phase II & III), with one of the original planners (1962-63).


Best Hopes,


Re: Keystone – President Obama’s LINE IN THE SAND. The spin is really becoming comical IMHO.

“Ultimately, Mr. Obama will decide. He has identified climate change as a major challenge and spoke in that inaugural speech about taking the “path toward sustainable energy sources,” a path that, by definition, would exclude or minimize the use of fossil fuels.”

That decision is whether an alternate (an arguably safer) method of getting the Canadian oil to US refineries is utilized. The absurd spin is that the president has (a may continue) to inhibit the US from importing that “dirty oil”. The reality: during 2012 the US imported more oil than ever before from Canada. How can that be…the POTUS refused to approve the border crossing section of the p/l? Easy: because he has fully supported the transportation of Canadian oil into the US be every other method possible. Has anyone heard him use his bully pulpit to complain about rail and truck transport of that oil into the US? No. Has he done so with respect to new pipelines that are quickly removing the bottleneck at Cushing? No. Has he said or done anything to indicate he doesn’t want as much “dirty Canadian oil” exported to the US as possible. No.

Yes: he makes statements supporting the idea of curbing AGW. At the same time he has his EPA issue a Clean Air Permit to the White Stallion coal-fired power plant in Texas that will rail Illinois coal half way across the country for the next 30 years. There are his words and then there are his actions (burning more coal and trying over-ride EPA refusal to issue a mountain top removal permit: a federal judge had to put the POTUS in his place ) and inactions (doing nothing to prevent a record amount of that “dirty Canadian oil” being burned in the US.

Perhaps it's just my weird sense of humor but I do find the spin really amusing.

I agree that pipelines are the most safe method of moving oil, besides using les energy in the process. But, two comments about the Keystone XL. First is the tar sands oil does not need to go to Cushing, it needs to go to the east coast where it can displace crude from OPEC or get to midwest refineries which is reachable by pipeline now. Keystone XL move oil from Canada to Gulf Coast, where is it refined, then those products shipped to southeast and east of US or exported to Europe.

Second, is production of tar sands really going to grow such that the pipeline will be used at max capacity and give a good return to Enbridge? I would question that as CN and CP railroads are making plans to move this Canadian crude to the west coast (BC) by rail for export to asian markets.

I am all in favor of approving a safe route (not across major aquifer) for Keystone XL. However, it will raise the price of gas and diesel by $0.50/gal. for the midwest users. I say allow the pipeline to be built but put a tax on the oil it transports and let the states that have the pipeline keep the money for use in alternative energy development/energy conservation.

mb - Where the oil needs to go is subject to who you're talking to. "I say allow the pipeline to be built but put a tax on the oil it transports": I don't see that we view the situation very differently...but - why put a tax on that Keystone oil and not on all of it moving across the border including thru the other existing NINE PIPELINES? Yes: Keystone will be the 10th p/l to cross the border. As I just mentioned elsewhere perhaps not many folks are aware of that minor fact. Yes: Keystone if far from being the only border crossing p/l.

Also, I'm not sure the feds could do it anyway. But if they could what would be the effect? Oh..oh...oh..I know teacher: raise the cost of energy to US consumers as well as add a bit more motivation to export the oil to other countries. And I guess while we’re at it we can add that pass thru tax onto all the Mexican and Venezuelan crude we import. Yeah, I’m sure there are plenty of politicians ready to have their names attached to that bill.

"I am all in favor of approving a safe route (not across major aquifer) for Keystone XL. However, it will raise the price of gas and diesel by $0.50/gal. for the midwest users."

Hmm...let me fix that for you: I am all in favor of approving a safe route (not across major aquifer) for Keystone XL because it will raise the price of gas and diesel by $0.50/gal. for the midwest users.

With any luck it'll raise the price for everyone. It'd be better to do it through taxes which could be invested in post-oil infrastructure, but eh...it's a start.

+1, Rockman. And we have misleader McKibben to thank for the absurd "centrality" of this non-issue... One has to wonder if he's on the Democratic Party's payroll, or just a free stooge.

McKibben is a well meaning, dedicated person who has been writing about or fighting global warming for decades. He was one of the first writers to warn the world about this coming threat before it was well known or fashionable. I think he is a hero but I also think he does not fully understand the tar sands situation. I have corresponded with him and pointed out to him that the oil is flowing and will flow to refining points through other means. This was in response to his statement that the fight against the pipeline was having an impact by lowering the price of the tar sands oil. I argued that this is a temporary phenomenon but does not mean that the oil will not be transported at a more rapid rate in the future.

But really. I understand why he may be somewhat blind to the real situation. He has given blood, sweat, and tears to this project and spent much of his life trying to stop this. I don't see this as nefarious and he is certainly not a stooge for the Democratic party. In fact, I don't really see what the Democratic party has to do with this, anyway.

The whole thing makes Obama look serious, though he certainly may stick it to McKibben anyhow. But, of course, Obama and his party are entirely unserious. McKibben is providing them with safe material to look thoughtful about.

If Obama blocks the project, if will be a disaster for our cause, as it will look like a victory that means something, and thereby validate McKibben's fake poses. Luckily, it's virtually sure Obama will approve the project...

As for the idea that his life's work excuses his mis-leadership, isn't that backwards? Shouldn't his ego get out of the way, if he really wants to alter the course of events?

I guess I could go back through your posts for the answer, but what is your cause?

I don't know anything about McKibben's ego and I am still not sure whether he fully understands the tar sands transportation issue. I suspect that at least 99% of the public doesn't understand it either. It has become a symbol and, therefore, it will be used as a litmus test for Obama's seriousness about global warming. For all the reasons stated so well by Rockman, however, it has very little practical significance. Sad, because there are many more important and significant fish to fry.

This issue may seem relatively simple for many of us here, but only because there have been so many informative posts, mostly from Rockman, on this issue.

I saw McKibben debate John Hofmeister at the Commonwealth Club last November. Hofmeister is the real stooge. He's an ex-oil company executive running an organization called "Citizens for Affordable Energy". I felt sorry for McKibben. Hofmeister has access to millions of dollars to spread his message and the kind of manner and authority the most people in this country respect.

McKibben, bless his heart, comes across as a slightly hysterical doomsayer. While I agreed with virtually everything McKibben said he just seemed too emotionally committed and not enough aware of what audience he had to connect with to make a difference.

RE Hofmeister.. Exactly! Pick the real targets, quit dragging on the friendlies who have a different tack than you'd like.

I'm sure that any one activist known or unknown will only ever be able to cover just a tiny sliver of the problems of building awareness and concern and action, and McKibben is no different.. but for those here who are worried about the same issues and think he's on an ineffectual track, I hope you're not spending too much time smacking down these people with the same goals but differing strategies.

Too much time gets wasted in fratricide.

Long live the Peoples Front of Judea! Fie on the Judean People's Front and the Popular Front... Bloody Splitters!

I am simply not in a position to criticize someone as persistent and dedicated as McKibben. Much of my early knowledge of this issue was due to his groundbreaking writings. He cannot solve the whole problem and neither has anyone else figured out how to do that given the powers with the money that be. When someone else figures out how to be more effective, please be sure and contact him with how you have figure out how to turn this country around on global warming.

Obama threw a bone to the pipeline fighters before the election, pure and simple. Throwing little bones around in politics here and there does not require one to be consistent. Now that the election is safely over, I would be surprised if this pipeline is stopped, even given Kerry's so called environmental/global warming credentials.

I voted for Obama and still believe that he was was preferable to the alternative. However, I gave up on the validity of his promises on climate change long ago. He is a product of the system and would not be the president if he were otherwise. The system and the nature of our politics does not yield grand solutions to grand problems or great leaders.

ts – I’m not sure what “bones” you’re referring to. Maybe some verbal bones? OTOH he didn’t approve the cross border crossing section of Keystone but he also sat back and watched the largest volume of oil (much of it from the tar sands) ever exported from Canada to the US since the dawn of production. If gasoline prices keep rising I have no doubt he’ll remind the public how much worse the situation would be had he not overseen the huge increase in tar sand imports.

Was it a bone to allow the drilling in the DW GOM to restart? The feds may have required some equipment improvements but the Macondo nightmare was caused by human error…and humans are still running the show out there. Another Macondo could happen tomorrow. You cab redesign a BOP but you can’t fix stupid. LOL. Was it a bone to allow Shell Oil to go thru with their aborted Arctic misadventure? Was it a bone to approve a new coal-fired plant in Texas? Was it a bone to override the refusal of his EPA to approve the permit of another mountaintop removal project in coal country? Was it a bone to mandate CAFE improvements that won’t take effect until after he leaves office when the next POTUS can change the rules just as easily as he did?

I’m not saying he hasn’t tossed them a real bone anywhere but I just can’t think of one that would satisfy any tree hugger (an honorable title IMHO). You know what I do for a living and a self-defined conservative and I’m disappointed in the president. I’m sure many will not understand me when I say President Obama just reminds of GWB 2.0. I’ve fired a .50 cal Barrett and a Contender single shot .22 pistol. Huge differences of course. But they are both the same thing: a gun. President Obama has done nothing to inhibit the oil patch any more than any R POTUS has done to help us in recent history IMHO. I still drill wells onshore and offshore as well as frac them just the same as when the Baby Bush was in office. The only big difference between now and when the last POTUS was an R is that higher oil prices are allowing us to do a lot more of the same. And from what little I know the coal and highway construction industries as well as the bankers and the MIC: none of them have much to complain about either.

And since I'm not a millionaire I don't really have much to complain about on tax issues. And I can still buy all the ammo and assault weapons I want. Not that I would since I'm one of those single shot action throwbacks. LOL.

The real Obama strategy is bone crushingly simple. Federally mandated fuel economy standards will destroy demand for liquid fuels and the market for hopelessly expensive tar sands products will simply disappear. It takes ten years but this is about fast enough. Car manufacturers and buyers might just see the light earlier and every car sold will soon be a plugin hybrid or a highly optimized hybrid or a super highly optimized ICE. No amount of ill-willed political pressure from the tar sands and refining industry can stop this.

I doubt that your scenario will come to pass. Mandates rely upon the public being willing to purchase those fuel efficient vehicles. Note that US gasoline prices are less than $4 a gallon (though increasing lately), yet there are many people still buying those large SUV's and PU's, including 4x4s. The US public has been warned several times since 1973 that oil is finite and expensive, yet many folks still ignore the available options for fuel economy.

Your scenario fails because the buying public isn't going to be willing to buy those high mpg vehicles until the price of fuel at the pump, in real dollars, is much higher than now. Thus, the fuel from tar sands (actually, bitumen sands) would be economically competitive, unless the price at the pump is the result of some other market intervention from the government, such as stiff fuel taxes or other effective rationing system. Of course, if the price at the pump is high because we have passed Peak Oil, then the public will likely demand that Canada be scraped clean down to the granite to get at those hydrocarbons...

E. Swanson

If you have a lot of money, you don't care as much about what fuel costs - and I suspect new car sales are dominated by the richest, especially those SUVs. It's just a hunch, of course.

It doesn't matter whether car sales are dominated by the rich or not: the real reason that economical cars are not popular is that even with gas guzzlers the cost of fuel is usually trivial compared to the largest costs of owning a new car: insurance, taxes, finance charges, and depreciation.

According to the AAA[PDF], the total cost of owning a 4WD SUV is $9,845 per year (assuming 10,000 miles in a year), of which $1,865 is fuel costs. That's less than 20% of the cost of owning the vehicle.

Of course, if you drive 20,000 miles per year fuel becomes a more significant cost. Nearly 30% of total cost.

When you buy a used vehicle, where the first owner has already taken a big hit on depreciation, the fuel cost will be a bigger part of the annual cost, but not as big as might be thought. The lower depreciation is often offset by larger maintenance costs, insurance and taxes will be little changed, and finance charges will be based on a smaller loan, but usually at a higher interest rate.

One of the results of such low fuel costs relative to total cost is that improvements in efficiency tend to be used to improve performance instead of improving economy. In 1954 the new Chevrolet Bel Air, a "full size executive" model, could reach 60mph in about in about 16 seconds. This was considered respectable, if not exciting acceleration. But the emphasis on performance has become such that the latest issue of Consumer Reports ridicules the Mitsubishi iMiEV electric car because it takes nearly 15 seconds to reach that speed, and the VW Passat TDI (a vehicle celebrated for its economy rather than its performance) manages to get to 60mph in a little over 9 seconds. That's 0.3 seconds slower than a 1956 Chevrolet Corvette.

Has anyone heard him use his bully pulpit to complain about rail and truck transport of that oil into the US? No. Has he done so with respect to new pipelines that are quickly removing the bottleneck at Cushing? No. Has he said or done anything to indicate he doesn’t want as much “dirty Canadian oil” exported to the US as possible. No.

We need to keep in mind the circumstances surrounding the original drawback by PO on Keystone. It was right after the oil spill up in Michigan, and as I recall he was mostly against running pipelines over fragile terrain. It had to do with pollution, not with global warming or anything else of importance.

And so, unless and until he sees an environmental impact report that shows little or no danger to water and land from the new pipeline, expect that he will be consistent with his earlier actions.

He does not oppose existing methods of transporting the oil since they have already been vetted and accepted by the public.

Would that climate change was in some way motivating the Administration, or Congress. What they care about is how the press would handle a leaking Keystone pipeline. And, of course, how that would impact voters. Face it folks, the establishment is all about the status quo. That means, no change in how things are done.


Would that climate change was in some way motivating the Administration, or Congress.

I keep hearing Obama's gonna actually do something about it. But, I'll believe that only after I've seen it. Show me!

Exelon Corp. Chief Executive Christopher Crane said Thursday that the rapid pace of subsidized wind-generated electric power could ultimately force it to shutter nuclear plants.

"What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants," Crane said in an interview.

Two thoughts about this:
- Unintended? C'mon Chris, cheer up, it's great news!
- A nuclear shill complaining about windpower getting subsidies, please, cry me a river.

As you increase the capacity of wind and solar it worsen the economics of dispatchable generation.. coal, gas and nukes. We resent that dispatchable generation but we want it to take up the load when the wind dies or the sun doesn't shine. The result is duplicated investment and inefficient stop-start operation.

There's talk in Europe of paying dispatchable generators extra fees for the ability to increase or decrease output, the so called 'capacity market'. Yet another subsidy on top of those already in place. I think the answer is simple.. don't mandate or subsidise anything. Let the players work out the optimum mix. That is least cost that meets reserve margin and any CO2 cap.

Sounds great but still waiting for CO2 cap.

I would be very surprised if capacity payments aren't part of every power purchase agreement (PPA) in Europe. They are universal here in the US. The PPA at the combined cycle plant I last worked at had a capacity payment that was sufficient to pay the debt service on the construction loan. That was in addition to energy payments for any MWhs delivered.

Most wind and solar plants do not get anything in the way of capacity payments, so they do not have any particular advantage over base-load plants.

So in effect because wind/solar makes traditional generation uneconomical you're argueing for a level playing field. You do understand that there never has been a level playing field? And that this non-existence has partly been established to keep the status quo, to make alternatives uninteresting? But now that this status quo is under pressure there are calls for a level playing field. That's rich.

And the real irony in Germany is, that Frisean peasants will own in a few years more than 20% of the German electricity production capacity because the utilities did not see the potential of wind around 2000. :-)))

A mere breeze: Era of fast growth ends for wind energy in Europe

It is often the elephant in the room at any conference on renewable energy. Sometimes, it’s mentioned simply as the “s” word and other times it’s not mentioned at all. But subsidies remain crucial, with wind energy still struggling to achieve price parity with coal and natural gas. This week in Vienna, at the European Wind Energy Association’s annual conference, subsidies came up right away.
“If we had an ideal world — with no subsidies for nuclear, gas or coal — in that world, onshore wind would do extremely well,” Christian Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “But that’s a utopia.”

With wind tubine manufacturers reporting strong sales in Europe, news of big plans from e.g. Scotland to decarbonize it's energy sector, from the introduction of feed-in tariffs in Poland, of strong growth in Germany and Denmark producing more then 30% of it's power from wind, or Spain setting new windpower records it's high time to get some anti-wind propaganda out the door ;-)

Wake-Up Call: A Disastrous Week for Carbon Trading

The ETS [European Emissions Trading System] is now in its crucial third phase -- one in which it was to reduce the number of carbon credits available on the market, forcing prices up and pollution down. However, too many carbon credits were issued in the early years and companies produced less in the downturn, resulting in a surplus of credits. Prices have gotten so low that Germany recently cancelled an auction of carbon credits for the first time, after no bids came in at the minimum price.
"I am getting regular phone calls from Chinese electricity companies watching the backloading* crisis in Europe," Scott said. "This is not invisible. We are saying, 'have confidence in carbon markets,' but we aren't going to do anything about confidence in our own climate market. It's absurd."

* The plan, called backloading, would take 900 million carbon allowances out of the system temporarily to help boost the carbon prices and partially relieve a massive glut.

Did you read the "mere breeze" link?

Confidence Crushed

At the EWEA conference, those retroactive changes were spoken of with the kind of spite and anger usually reserved for criminals. The most commonly quoted worst-practices example was Spain. The country has spent the last few years consistently making decisions that instill a sense of horror among investors.

The country introduced a retroactive feed-in tariff cut in 2008 and a 7 percent energy tax last month. And new rules governing the feed-in tariff that became law on Feb. 2 caused major drops in valuation for Spain’s wind farm owners. The most recent example was Acciona SA, which recently saw a four-day drop in valuation of roughly €850 million.

I knee-jerked, sorry about that. I've read a few appaling articles from Der Spiegel this last year and I won't even start about wind-watch and assumed it was the usual drivel. However the article is actualy quite good as well as the article you linked above about the European carbon trading. Both from the same journalist I notice.

Exelon chief: Wind-power subsidies could threaten nuclear plants

Yeah, I got a good laugh from this story. He's whining about subsidies to wind? Really?
-There were $8.3 BILLION in low-interest government-backed loans in the stimulus package for nuclear
-Nuclear power is greatly subsidized by the Price-Anderson act that limits their liability and thus limits the insurance costs.
-The nuclear industry receives a PRODUCTION TAX-CREDIT itself!!
The Energy policy Act of 2005 (signed by Bush) authorizes production tax credit of up to $125 million total a year, estimated at 1.8 US¢/kWh during the first eight years of operation for the first 6.000 MW of capacity,[8] consistent with renewables;

So stop your whining . . . wind deserves subsidies because:
-No CO2 emissions
-No risk of radioactive leaks
-No pollution
-No risk of a serious industrial accident (wind turbines do fall over or catch fire on rare occasions but they pretty much don't hurt anything but themselves.)
-No imported fuel

Here's something else that might threaten nuclear power: the Olkiluoto 3 reactor by Areva in Finland is now delayed to 2016 (originally planned for 2009), and a new estimate by prof. Esa Vakkilainen is that TVO will be losing around 1,2 - 1,8 billion (short scale) Euros on the six years delay. TVO counted that the reactor would pay itself back in 12 years, now prof. Vakkilainen estimates that they have to add at least 5 years to that.


Taking capital investment risks like that requires a very long look into a very cloudy future. Who knows how alternative energy sources and energy pricing develops over such timescales. I won't be surprised if it takes government energy market regulations and loan guarantees, maybe even fixed pricing per kWh to make such investments safe enough for commercial parties to put several billion on the table. Doesn't sound competitive to me.

Yep, here too the French state has given loan guarantees to the buyer and export subsidies to the seller.


here a sobering article in the "Bulletin iof Atomic Scientists" on the economic situation of the French nuclear industry:


When the kWh prices for the new generation of reactors is true, then we will have a lot of fun in the comming years, they look a little bit like zombies.

America, Party like it's 1969!

Chrysler's new 'heavy metal' musclecars are here!



Much more sensible and patriotic than a 50 mpg Prius.

Cars -- all cars -- are to patriotism what Chicken McNuggets are to fine dining.

Yair . . . I see there is a three litre diesel available in the van though.


Chrysler is an abomination as far as green cars go. GM has the Volt, Ford has the Energi plug-in hybrids (and an over priced EV conversion), but Chrysler has pretty much nothing. And their leader whines incessantly about having to create Fiat 500 electric because they are being forced too. Ugh.

Another article just hit the cyber-stream:

Extolling Toyota's refreshed Tundra, and comparing it with similar offerings from Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. Lots of discussion of horsepower, engine displacement, towing capacity, and cosmetic sheet metal changes. Not one mention of fuel economy/mileage figures. Party on, Urban cowboys, and occasional RV trailer and boat-pullers!


Obligatory link to Simpsons Canyonero clip.

Yikes, no wonder Rockman never mentions wanting to drill for oil in Canada, with Heavy Louisiana Sweet selling for $22.45/barrel MORE than WTI while Western Canada Select sells for $24.25/barrel LESS than WTI.

So almost a $47 haircut for about the same barrel of oil. If one can make money selling oil at about $72, one can only guess how much money one can make selling it at about $118. I am sure Rockman is feeling guilty about this.


For $8 to $10 per barrel CN railroad will move the oil to Prince Rupert, a deep water BC port, for export to Asian market. Plans are being put into action now by the railroads, but the nimbys in BC are objecting. They will not have much effect IMO because CN has more power than any other crown corporation in Canada, unlike Enbridge, Suncor, other players in the tar sands.

Other option is for railroads to move this oil to east Canada, then head south to US to pick up a load of nat gas condensate to bbe used as dilutant, then head back to Alberta to unload and reload. Benefits Canadians, US energy producers and railroads. Why bother with $10 billion for pipelines when a few hundred million invested in RR's and oil loading terminals will do the job of bring Candaian oil on par with WTI or even close to Brent?

Elmo – “I am sure Rockman is feeling guilty about this.” You must be talking about Rookman…that compassionate conservative that rarely visits TOD. LOL. My current emotions are more in the realm of modest fear. I’ve repeated point out that collectively the biggest opponents of Keystone have been Gulf Coast oil companies. In addition to my EOR project in Texas I’m about to start a $40 million drilling program in MS/AL where oil has also been pegged to LLS prices. If the Canadian crudes knocks LLS prices low enough a lot of US oil will be replaced by imported oil. So less production taxes for the states, less income for the landowners, less jobs and thus less fed income taxes, etc, etc. Oh…almost forgot…less income for me. LOL.

Also: After my post about the POTUS and Keystone it occurred to me that I’ve subconsciously made the assumption that a lot of folks already realize that there are other pipelines carrying crude across the US - Canadian border. That may have been incorrect. In fact, Keystone will be the 10th p/l to come across the border. The border crossing section of Keystone is hardly a game changer unlike the new lines out of Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The big game changer I'm hoping for is more oil transport to the Canadian west coast and on to China. That will make many of us smile.

I don't think you have to worry much about the Canadian heavy oil ever having a significant impact on LLS by getting to the gulf. What I think you need to worry about is the Canadian part of keystone NOT being built and the southern part carrying light oil instead of Canadian heavy. That could crush LLS prices as the glut of light oil on the gulf overwhelms the capacity to effeciantly refine it there or to ship it to the east coast.
The gulf already has a surplus of light oil. Valero says it has replaced all foreign light oil at its gulf coast refineries with domestic as of September. As I type this there are ships enroute carrying nearly 2 million barrels of light oil from the gulf to Bay town NJ, Come by Chance NB, and Quebec ONT refineries.
The new pipelines from the Permian combined with the southern part of keystone are almost certain to depress LLS dramatically unless enough heavy oil can make it to Cushing to displace light oil in the keystone and seaway pipelines.

I wonder how much of the decrease in the trade gap is due to the lower prices the US is paying for imported Canadian crude.


The decrease in the trade deficit in December was due to both a decline in petroleum and non-petroleum products.

Oil averaged $95.16 in December, down from $97.45 per barrel in November. But most of the decline in the value of petroleum imports was due to a sharp decline in the volume of imports.

Thanks. It looks like from November to December oil imports declined by about $2.5 Billion dollars. With $2 billion of the drop being from less oil and $.5 billion from lower prices.

I wonder what Chief Crane from Excelon thinks constitutes an excessive amount of windpower?

Sounds like this storm has provided just such an excessive amount of the supply at least, shuttering the Pilgrim NPP (Entergy), while I haven't heard of any wind turbines toppling yet. They've been getting up to 80mph.. hope they haven't had to just furl away..

Utility companies reported about 700,000 customers without electricity across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut as the wet, heavy snow brought down tree branches and power lines.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, lost power and shut down automatically late on Friday, but there was no threat to the public, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.


Shut down because of a grid outage.. which is fine from a Nuclear Safety perspective, but it shows the core technology as fairly impotent against future instability, and of course it better be remembered how every 'becalmed' day seems to be the day we need that windpower the most, yet how does that not then apply doubly to a utility supply that could jump ship as soon as the storm starts getting serious?

The CEO probably rarely thinks about "wind" at all. I've noticed a trend towards "pity party" language amongst the moguls of ff and nukes -- and especially from their shills in legislatures, lately. The current PR scam is to attempt to "frighten" the public with threats that they may disappear and we will all suffer greatly. I don't wish them ill, but it would really help a lot if they could all disappear, be...well, raptured or something. I am sick of their pity parties. It is time to just "let go," git'er done; and let the chips fall where they may, I think. There is just no more time for can kicking. That would be very hard on me. If I have to walk to the grocery, I won't last long. But I am 70 now and am most surely dispensable.

Some middle-aged King Coal representative (in a suit) just walked right up to me outside a public hearing one evening, a guy I've never seen before, and said, very accusingly, "You hate coal, don't you?" Taken somewhat aback, I recovered as I spoke these words:

"Well..., actually no, I do not hate coal. Coal is fascinating, and I associate the smell of it with my fond memories of childhood, when I shoveled a LOT of coal; we heated our house with it and the stoker had to be refilled once a day. I lived for a time in a very industrial city where often the smell of coal smoke was our "background" smell. I do not hate coal. I am fully aware of how amazing it is on many levels. But times change, sir; and we now know that digging up and burning coal and other fossil fuels is poisoning us.

"And right now, what I 'HATE' is blowing off the tops of the oldest and, to me, the most beautiful ridges and mountains in the world -- destroying them and claiming stupid stuff like 'These mountain people NEED some flat land so they can build a Walmart.' I really do hate that. And that is why this large button pin on my sweatshirt says, in great big red letters,

"STOP Mountain Top Removal!"


edit to add:
The hearing, btw, was on King Coal's demands to eliminate the "Stream Buffer Zone Rule," which forbids placing the rock-rubble waste within 100 feet of a valley headwaters stream near the MTR site. One of GW Bush's last acts as President was to eliminate that rule by Executive Order, a parting gift to King Coal. One of Obama's early acts was to restore that rule. It is one of those that they say is costing them too much money. They want to just shove all the exploded up rubble over the edge and down into the adjacent valley, right on top of the surface-water drainage streams. So this now-reinstated rule is a part of their pity party, these regulations put upon them by the evil Obama who is trying to kill them all. God forbid they should be stopped from directly and adversely impacting the quality of drinking water for the millions downstream, like ME for instance, not to mention the destruction of an incredibly diverse plant and animal habitat. /rant (again -- really, this time)

erainh2o,this article does a good job of stating where we are at in time and it's basically turf protection and trying to run out the clock http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-coming-catastrophees-and-the-rawlsian-veil-o...

I don't wish them ill, but it would really help a lot if they could all disappear, be...well, raptured or something.

You have better control of your emotions, and take a more enlightened attitude than I. I do wish them ill.

Yeah, I keep going back to 'Velociraptured'..

Remember this?

It might possibly be time to face the reality that this is not about self enlightenment, or correct speech, but stopping the machine before it destroys us all.

And now for your island news roundup:

Work to begin on Caymanas Economic Zone in May - Hylton

Development of the proposed trans-shipment and logistics hub is being undertaken by the Government in a bid to position Jamaica to take advantage of opportunities expected to result from the expansion of the Panama Canal, by 2015.

World Bank to help find funding for Logistics Hub

Speaking at a press briefing in Kingston Mr Valentini said the hub is not solely about Jamaica’s port, as it will involve many areas that will significantly enhance the country’s potential for growth.

He says thousands of jobs will have to be created to support the logistics hub and suggests that Jamaica begin to look towards the training of human capital to fuel the needs of the hub.

Caribbean Broilers seeks to substitute yellow corn with sorghum

he Caribbean Broilers Group is banking on the use of sorghum as a substitute for imported yellow corn, which is a major ingredient in its line of Nutramix animal feeds.

From a couple of days ago a story about a bunch of 12th and 13th graders (pre university) who apparently deserve more credit than we give them. Maybe they sense that all is not right with the world!

'We need training in non-traditional career areas'


"We come to school, we get an education but what we don't learn is how to survive," said Annastacia Irving, "We need to invest in our young people and make use of their skills and talents."

She added: "When I say survival, I am speaking about the day-to-day issues that we will face in the real world, so instead of pushing a lawyer or doctor career on us, identify the gifts we possess and encourage us in that regard."

During the forum, the students who are all preparing themselves to move on to the tertiary circuit made it clear they were not satisfied with the limited options being offered to them and said they wanted Government to create additional avenues.

That same day the following story was published. I hope nobody thinks this is the kind of "non-traditional career areas" that the kids in the previous article should be trained in!

Jamaica gets the nod to train aviation professionals

JAMAICA HAS been given the green light to train aviation professionals for the global markets, which will need 350,000 pilots and 480,000 mechanics by 2026.

The country officially received its 'Trainair Plus' full membership from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) during a joint Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCCA) regional symposium at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, on Monday.

The ICAO is a United Nations specialised agency and the only global aviation standards setting body in the world.

The accreditation comes as aviation faces a number of critical challenges, including "a brain drain because of retirement of skilled workers and an increase of the global fleet", said JCCA's director general, Lieutenant Colonel Oscar Derby.

Of note is the fact that International Aviation Authority forecasts that the 2.9 billion airlines passengers carried in 2012 will grow to over six billion by 2030, and that the 30 million flights they flew on will reach 60 million annually over the same period.

This is even more evidence that there is need for training facilities to accommodate those who will work in the industry.

Honestly the collection of stories over the past week just makes me feel like screaming! What is wrong with these people? They seem determined to put Jamaica in more debt, in order to advance the country down a pat that is totally out of step with any idea of resource limits, Limits to Growth, Peak Oil, Global Warming or any of the stuff we talk about here every day!

Alan from the islands

What is wrong with these people? They seem determined to put Jamaica in more debt, in order to advance the country down a pat that is totally out of step with any idea of resource limits, Limits to Growth, Peak Oil, Global Warming or any of the stuff we talk about here every day!

This type of scenario is exactly why collapse is not only inevitable but probably necessary for human consciousness to move forward. Currently the willingness to expand is much greater than any kind of long term view to sustainability. Any perceived opportunity immediately translates into a headlong desire to push the pedal to the metal. So evidently we as a species have to accelerate into something hard to better understand our limits. I hope everybody is ready for impact.

To follow up on yesterday's stories here are a couple articles that, at first blush appear to have nothing to do with Peak Oil

EDITORIAL - Dr Davies' portfolio beyond the highway

On Pechon Street, our specific reference is the Downtown Municipal Transport Centre, initially conceptualised when P.J. Patterson was prime minister. It was to be one of a slew of projects to help revitalise downtown ahead of the 2007 Cricket World Cup, of which Jamaica was one of the Caribbean hosts.

Most of those projects were stillborn. But the transport centre eventually got done. It was to be a hub for certain urban rural buses and taxis, aimed at easing congestion in the Parade/central business district. There were to be free transfers between it and the Parade parking bay buses used by the state-owned bus company for its routes around the city.

Potential users complained about the location, saying that it would be inconvenient for commuters. Yet hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into it. It turned out the commuter sheds were badly designed. More millions were spent.


These days, a handful of buses use one section of the facility. At the other, mainly for taxis, weeds are beginning to protrude between cracks in the concrete. Slowly, the elements are beginning to take their toll on the structure. Given a bit of time, the facility will resemble the next railway station that has not had traffic for nearly two decades.

AlanfromBigEasy might like this picture of an old steam engine at the decaying railway station alluded to in the story above that was the winning entry in an amateur photo competition held by the newspaper.

The first comment I saw after reading the story this morning seemed to me to be more appropriate as a response to the next story I am going to link to. It read:

Another PNP conceptualized project with potential that is slowly becoming a white elephant is the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

The country seems to be sinking deeper and deeper in mud of incompetence, mismanagement, and decay.

I responded with:

This is an example of what happens when one refuses to accept ideas like the idea of "Peak Oil". Events overtake you as you take decisions predicated on a return to the halcyon days of healthy world economic growth, Those days are over and we might want to look at how we are going to deal with the economic convulsions, similar to the one in 2008, that are going to accompany the eventual decline in world oil production.

The year 2008 may a harbinger of things to come, due not in small part to the idea that, it may have had something to do with the decline in world net crude exports which started in 2005. Ask Edward Seaga. He has outlined the concept of Peak Oil before, in an article published in this very newspaper on, Sunday, May 27, 2012 and more recently, just three weeks ago, on Sunday January 20, 2013.

My response was not approved, instead one from a poster with a far more cornucopian bent has been published so far.Wonders never cease. My comment complete with both instances of the words "Peak Oil" has been approved!

The story I thought the comment was more appropriate for is

1 million a day down the drain

The Montego Bay Convention Centre, constructed at a cost of US$51.7 million and branded as a major outlet to garner foreign exchange from the lucrative meetings and conventions market, is instead bleeding the public purse.

The Sunday Gleaner has confirmed that the centre is costing the country approximately $1 million each day and earning significantly less.

Local stakeholders had predicted that the convention centre had the capacity to generate approximately US$10 million in its first year, with the prospect of a 10 per cent increase in earning each succeeding year.

However, the expected revenue stream has not materialised, leaving the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) with a whopping $30 million per month maintenance cost.{snip}

marketing expense

Another expense Malcolm thinks the centre could do without is an arrangement with a US-based agent, who is contracted to market the facility at a cost of US$80,000 annually.

However, to date, only US$4,000 in income has been generated from that contract.

My comment was not among the 51 comments approved up to the time of this post. Not too surprising, seeing as it reads: (bold omitted from my submission to the paper)

If the government had commissioned a study of the phenomenon of Peak Oil, described by Edward Seaga in his article on Sunday January 20, 2013 as, "the point at which the global supply of oil begins to decline" maybe they would have invested the money they have thrown and continue throw into this black hole, differently.

Assuming an installed cost of US$7 per watt for solar PV power, US$51.7 million could have installed 7.38MW of solar PV capacity with the capacity to generate an average of 36,928kWh of electricity every day! This would save the owners of this capacity between US$11,752 and US$14,928 per day and if the electricity were sold to the JPS at only J$15/kWh, just under US$5,830 would be earned per day! This would work out to roughly US$2.1 million in earnings or between US$4.29 million and US$5.45 million savings per year! While this only represents an annual return on US$51.7 million of 4% on the low end and 10.5% at the high end, it only depends on the sun continuing to shine and the equipment continuing to work.

If one considers the J$1 million in daily costs, using the same assumption for installed cost used above, that amount could install 1.5kW of solar PV power every day! Each 1.5 kW could save it's owners J$4,950 per month so, investing one years operating cost in solar PV would result in adding J$59,400 in annual electricity cost savings. While again this by no means represents a stellar return on investments, it is a hell of a lot better than what Jamaica taxpayers are currently getting (losing) on this investment!

Continuing to ignore the prospect of Peak Oil will only result in the continuation of the kind of unbridled optimism that predicted "that the convention centre had the capacity to generate approximately US$10 million in its first year, with the prospect of a 10 per cent increase in earning each succeeding year." Acceptance of inevitability of world oil production declining in the not to distant future, would prompt us to invest in energy saving or energy generating projects, rather than projects which increase energy consumption with little benefit.

edit: After I resubmitted the above comment, replacing the first paragraph with one on the ROI of wind turbines and replacing the last paragraph with the sentence "Renewable Energy, the gift that keeps on giving!", it was approved! I guess the Peak Oil message does not find favour with the editors. Since the article was no longer easily accessible from the newspaper's home page, I jumped at the chance to resubmit when the matter was raised again in the editorial a couple of days later.

I don't care all that much when my comments don't get published since, I figure if I repeat the "Peak Oil" meme often enough, it might actually cause somebody to "look it up". I'm also trying hard to not just talk about what we should not be doing but, what we should be looking at instead of what we're doing so that, maybe when a bit of S Hits TF, somebody might have an epiphany and say "Ahhh, so this is what that guy was talking about".

How much of this sort of insanity is going on in small countries all over the world? Is it going to stop when events force it to stop or are we going to continue frantically trying to propagate BAU in the face of increasing evidence that the Age of Oil is coming to an end?

edit: acknowledge publishing of comment on newspaper web site.

Alan from the islands

WebHubbleTelescope said:

The other hurdle that you refer to is one of entropic losses as we convert one energy form to another, which is needed to do all the processing of oil shales, etc,

All processes results in entropy production (Second Law mandate): temperature * entropy = irreversibility production. This is equivalent to saying that entropy production is necessary to make a process go forward. Not only is this a problem in processing oil shale, it is a problem in processing conventional crude. The entropy production that occurs during the production of conventional crude increases as the process continues, and the energy costs of producing it increases. This leaves less and less energy available for the end consumer. As time progresses, a greater and greater portion of the energy in a unit of oil is required to extract, process, and distribute it.

To overcome this basic law of nature, more and more crude must be produced to keep the energy contribution to the end consumer constant. When the energy to the end consumer can no longer be increased it gets scarcer, and the price increases as a result. When the price of the oil becomes high enough the energy received from it by the end consumer can no longer support the economic activity needed to acquire it. At that point you have reached the end of the oil age.

We reached the energy half way point in 2012. A gallon of petroleum contains 140,000 BTU of energy. That is, its specific internal energy is 140,000 BTU/gal, and the energy to extract, process and distribute a gallon of oil was 70,000 BTU/gal in 2012. From this point forward, no matter how much is pumped out of the Bakken, the price of oil will continue to rise.

The Second Law is a harsh task master; there is no arguing with her!

"The First Law says you can't win. The Second Law says you can't break even. The Third Law says you can't get out of the game!"

I like Nicholous-Georgescu-Roegen's attempt to formulate a Fourth Law to apply to material entropy

Right, right, right, we all know this. Now, that given, we look at the options. We have one good one staring at us every day--solar. We are getting it new every day, far, far more than we need, no need tobe messing around with entropy in a closed system, we live in an open system. Real wide open.

So, let's get to it and use that solar and forget these megatons of nonsense re ff's we keep shoveling around here.

Sigh. Yea, how do we pay for it? At least two options pop to mind, first, we don't pay for it, just like we don't pay for ff's. Or, we really do pay for it --by quitting all the silly frivolity we call BAU, and getting down to doing what's important for once.

Of course not. Don't bother to say it.

Back to the bike transmission, Looks really cute. Loads of fun.

PS: The irreversibility production in the crude oil production system is not linear!

Short - use the reply button, please. If you are replying to someone else's comment, click "reply," rather than "post comment."



Energy explorers such as Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Transocean Ltd. said they have been directed by U.S. regulators to suspend work aboard rigs that employ General Electric Co. devices connecting drilling tubes to safety gear and the seafloor. The equipment must be retrieved so defective bolts can be replaced, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in an alert issued on Jan. 29.

Is this about the riser bolts that need replacing, or just the bolts in the H4 connector?

I don't see how the mud can be in contact with either. If it is the riser bolts, that is a lot of bolts to ship. If it is the H4 connector, I can see a lot unhappy subsea engineers. The duel activity rigs, if they have two BOPs could have a big advantage in this situation.


A recent shipment of weapons intercepted in Yemen, including surface-to-air missiles, shows Iran’s determination to further destabilize the region, according to the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Its a good thing that the Nation complaining about the above isn't the world largest shipper of arms to other Nations.

Such would be hypocritical and make some people furious quickly.

China Expert: China Is Fast Approaching Urban Disaster

Tom Miller, author of China’s Urban Million: The Story Behind the Greatest Migration in Human History. Miller, editor of China Economic Quarterly, has lived in Beijing since 2002 and has visited 85 Chinese cities.

So far, he says, not so good. The cities are "shitholes," he says. They are inefficient with their space, they have gigantic problems with traffic, pollution, and sidewalks that open up gaping holes and swallow pedestrians. Plus, they're ugly.
"That kind of displacement could only be disastrous for workers who have no work skills transferrable to urban life," Miller says. "If I’m a farmer ... I’m being put into a new tower block, where there’s nowhere I can keep any hens, and I have no chance of getting a job. I have no urban skills. What this is actually doing is creating a huge urban underclass of people who can’t function in the society."

And all those millions moving to the cities seek an American lifestyle, when I see something like that I can't help but think that the world is ultimately doomed no matter what mitigation efforts we undertake.

The quintessential American lifestyle, of course, is not about cities but about suburbs. There simply isn't the space in a giant, dense, mega high rised city to have what is the American lifestyle. The American lifestyle involves lots of driving around and that cannot possibly be viable in the kinds of cities China has been building. So they get these horrible unlivable polluted hell holes where everyone has to go around wearing masks as if their was a permanent flu epidemic. Whether this is worth having access to lots of shiny, bright objects is up to them but apparently they should have considered non viability of the automobile in insanely dense packed urban hellholes.

This reminds me of the books I read in the late 1960s by Robert Ardrey. He describes in one of the books an experiment with rats where the experimenters built a cage with a central common area and small side areas. As they put more and more rats into the central area it became a madhouse of violence and dominent males used the side areas to sequester females. They became safe havens for the females and the offspring. Yet as the young rats matured they fought their parents protective behaviors to get out there "where the action is".

I think it describes pretty well the allure of cities to humans living the simple life in the country. The excitement, the baubles, the unknown are all too tempting and offset in the minds of the young the obvious dangers of crime, smog, poverty, etc.

If true - wonder what the cost and rules will be to actually RUN a website?

(warning the below link is poorly sourced and conspiratorial. I being it up however to ask the question: How can sites like TOD afford to operate if there will be mandatory insurance?)


Subsequently, “4409″ discovered that big money is behind a coming government program designed to make it mandatory that for you and I to use the internet, we must submit to using a biometric online identification tool.

4409 further discovered that one of the convention rooms was reserved for online liability insuranceprogram. Companies which were lining up to see how they could make money by offering liabilityinsurance to people with biometric online Identifications. This begs the question as to whether this biometric online ID poses a potential physical danger to the user? Why else would one need this type of insurance?

"..that for you and I to use the internet..."

Uh, you and ME. Just sayin' ;-/

Insurance for what? Getting fried eyeballs from faulty retina scanners?

Insurance for loss if the Biometric files resulting in a bank loosing money?

Plenty of reasonswill be cited for such a mandatory program - the pushing of the new CISPA bill, claims of 'cyberwar', et la.

While the link I submitted was breathless about the end users, what of the ppl who operate websites?

I imagine that cyber warfare might also include a problem of people uploading modified data into a bank's security files. Change a retina scan and a photograph with one from some poor schmuck illegal alien and send the guy to withdraw the funds from the modified account. Then, switch the data back to the original before the theft is caught, or else the illegal goes back home.

Just another step in the classic game of defense and offense, only no blood shed involved. And so goes away all our freedoms and liberty, one minor step at a time...

E. Swanson


The Better Than Cash Alliance, which was founded last September and is partially financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

And what happens when there is a crash of the network?

A long way away from the next corn harvest. Blending will definitely become an issue by summer and probably will lead to higher gasoline prices unless gasoline demand falls a few percentage points.

Corn shortage idles 20 ethanol plants nationwide; 2 in Indiana

Availability of locally produced corn is vital for ethanol plants since having it shipped in is too expensive. To make matters worse, the drought hit hardest in many of the top corn-growing states.

http://www.oil-price.net/ Brent now 118.62 with unleaded at the pumps ranging in our area in CA from 3.96-4.17 a gallon. Since fuel usually rises in spring, isn't this a tad early? Wonder if we are being softened up for a run to break 5 a gallon in CA this spring.

Speaking of being softened up, there was an science article describing what lead to the extinction of the dinosaur?

Earl – It’s actually all part of our (dirty lying oil company bastards) clever scam to confuse J6P. Since we’re heading towards energy independence we have to explain why fuel prices will remain high. By jerking up prices so early there’s only one obvious answer: those damn invisible speculators. Certainly nothing to do with that stupid PO fairy tale.

Shhhh…don’t tell nobody.

Perhaps people are confusing independence with low prices. Unlike Vegas, just because oil is produced here doesn't mean it stays here. Once we become independent, we can slash our oil related military budget by hundreds of billions of dollars. We can become fully divorced from the global market and rest in the sweet knowledge that all our oil is being provided by our loving, caring, altruistic, local non global oil company. Oh, wait, we were only promised North American Independence. Our buddies to the North and to the South will guarantee us cheap oil and gas for tens and possibly hundreds of years. Too bad our descendants won't have a habitable planet to enjoy all that oil and gas on.

See how the juxtaposition of the above sentences make no sense? That is what we are confronted with in the news every day of the week. How people can make sense of this nonsense is beyond me.

WTF does indendependence mean, anyway?

WTF does independence mean, anyway?

A great philosophical question. Interesting how energy provided the opportunity for world trade, and a net energy decline will regionalize, then localize economies. People will find the move to 'independence' isn't such a fun ride as energy becomes a more localized commodity. Along those lines, it would make a very interesting movie about a person born in say 2005, that sees some of the benefits of oil, but soon thereafter has to spend a lifetime adapting to a world transitioning to lower net energy supplies, ending up working the land by hand, a subsistence life in a commune. There's independence, which really isn't that at all because without those other people lending a helping hand, none would survive. So as humans is there anything that resembles independence? Only if you're one of those that somehow becomes wealthy, then hoards it, claims other's should independently pull themselves up by their bootstraps...you get the point.

does indendependence mean, anyway?

It means you are only dependant on your own local dinosaur bones.

It’s actually all part of our (dirty lying oil company bastards) clever scam to confuse J6P.

Rock, if my post seemed like a hit on oil companies, it was actually intended in regards to the situation at hand, i.e. peak oil, with no blame per se' on any party involved. Afterall some things are simply geological.

Earl - didn't take it that way at all. My smart ass remark was just to highlight all the varous reasons some folks have for why our energy situation is the way it is other than to understand the developing dynamics of PO. For some folks reality is just to difficult a pill to swallow.

This does have a peak oil connection so bear with me. Did anyone else see the science article yesterday describing what lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs? http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/14/62G75/

A cosmic one-two punch of colossal volcanic eruptions and meteorite strikes likely caused the mass-extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period that is famous for killing the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, according to two Princeton University reports that reject the prevailing theory that the extinction was caused by a single large meteorite.

I found this fascinating and although people will in my opinion not become extinct in the near future, the idea of a one two punch made me start to consider our situation. Is it possible that peak oil will act as the first blow to soften us up economically, then a climate change tipping point, like methane releases in the Arctic or sea level rise or any other tipping point, will act as the second blow that will cause societal collapse? In any case, the one-two punch is worth noting.


RE: the one-two punch. That is pretty much the scenario I've been contemplating for a long time now.

WRT: the death of dinosaurs, for me the real puzzle has been why did they die off but mammals and birds, a sub-clade of dinos, not only tend to survive but actually go to adaptive radiations after the K-Pg event? I've just posted a blog on this in which I examine two major evolutionary innovations that birds and mammals seem to have evolved independently that might explain their survival over dinosaurs. One of those innovations has been studied for a long time, i.e. enhanced neo-cortex allowing learning and memory modulation of behavior. The other, however, is not as well studied and really just now coming into focus. That is the concept of evolvability. Specifically birds and mammals also have very complex gene expression control DNA that is also subject to promoted mutation leading to higher rates of allele variant generation in response to environmental stress. Dinosaurs did not have the neo-cortex and they were more likely to have the same less complex control network that reptiles have. These two characteristics might have given birds and mammals leverage in competing with whatever remaining dinosaurs exited post-cataclysm.

For anyone interested it can be found at:
Question Everything

Interesting. Evolvability, which I assume is how much a species can change within a limited number of generation (of perhaps time), if the environmental conditions (including food and competition predators etc.) changes. In a rapidly changing environment, that could be key. Also perhaps epigenetics allows some short term -but not truly inheritable adaptation, that would be useful in a fluctuating environment.
Of course smaller animals can evolve quicker because of the combination of short generations, and usually lots of offspring.

But, I've always been confused about dino's, are modern lizards evolved from something else? At least superficially they resemble small dinos. And there must have been small dinos as well as large.

Lizards are reptiles. Reptilian walk is akin to the position of you arms at the lower point of a push up. Dinosaurs, OTOH, have an upright walk like your arms at the top of a push up. Reptiles (eg crocodile) and dinosaurs (eg titanosaurs) existed at the same time. Lizards descended through the reptile side. Birds descended from the theropod side of the dinosaurs with their upright stance. Thank goodness their ancestors were the smaller theropods not the sauropods.


WRT: the death of dinosaurs, for me the real puzzle has been why did they die off but mammals and birds, a sub-clade of dinos, not only tend to survive but actually go to adaptive radiations after the K-Pg event?

Could it be because birds and smaller mammals are seed and insect eaters, and seeds and insects were the only viable source of food for larger land creatures to survive the impact/eruption?

And some of those small birds and mammals store food. Let's call them mini-preppers or let's call the human equivalent "bird brains". Anyway, the enlarged hippocampus and memory and hiding food could have been a useful trait at the time.

It does seem like small body size was a factor. Small animals seem more resistant to extinction than larger ones, probably because they need less food. Burrowing and aquatic habitat may have been an advantage. (Frogs survived the dieoff.)

Not sure why birds are the only dinosaurs to survive; small body size may have been a factor. (There's a size limit automatically imposed for flying creatures.) Even today, birds have a survival advantage due to their ability to fly. If they survive to adulthood, they are very long-lived. Parrots live as long as humans. Hummingbirds can live 10 years in the wild, compared to about a year for the similarly-sized mouse.

Natural lifespan can be seen as indicator of how likely a species is to die of unnatural causes. Nature doesn't waste energy doing maintenance on a body that will likely be dead of predation or starvation in a year.

There is just no way that humans will go extinct in the near future. Of course they might go extinct in a few thousand years, who knows. But there is nothing on the horizon that could drive humans extinct in the near future, not peak oil or climate change.

The climate has been a lot warmer in the past, and I mean a lot warmer. Dinosaurs and palm trees thrived near the poles. No doubt a huge warming of the planet would be catastrophic for the human population, but not terminal. Even if 99.9 percent of the population got wiped out that would still leave 70 million people on earth.

Ditto for peak oil. If we run out of fossil energy tomorrow it would mean chaos around the world. But after all the conflict and death there would still be people left.

Humans occupy every habitual niche on earth, millions of them. No matter how bad it gets, there will be survivors.

An asteroid hitting the earth, if large enough, could do it of course. But there is no way to predict such a thing until you see it coming. Then it's too late. Of course that is not the type of extinction we are talking about. That is, it is not one of the causes we are talking about.

Ron P.

"An asteroid hitting the earth, if large enough, could do it of course."

Or a supervolcano. But even that is unlikely to wipe us all out. There are some estimations that after the last big supervolcano (Toba) 70,000 years ago, there were only 10,000 pairs of humans that survived on the whole planet. Today, with a population of 7 billion, there could be (tens of) millions of survivors even if Yellowstone blows up.

No matter how bad it gets includes mass extinction of humans. There are various things that could do it:

1. too many nuclear power reactors undergo core meltdowns

2. large scale nuclear war

3. something eliminating the ozone

4. hydrogen sulfide bubbling into the atmosphere in vast quantities

5. a slow geomagnetic pole reversal that shuts down the geomagnetic field for several decades

6. extinction of phytoplankton?

7. astronomical events (large meteorite impact, supernova)

I am sure someone can think of more.

I am sure someone can think of more.

http://www.exitmundi.nl/exitmundi.htm for all of your end of the world/humanity needs.

The one thing I see that may do us in is if it gets to hot and the global conveyor belt shuts down. Then there will be no accidification of the ocean bottom, algae that falls down there will decompose in an oxygen free enviornment, and then sulforhydroxide will form. It smells like rotten egg, and will kill you. Potentially, this can kill all large land living animals.


I am a lurker and never comment. Maybe once or twice. But I think this forum is best left to the core group.

The reason for this comment is that it is my 7th anniversary as a TOD reader. My heading shows me as New. I am not New by a long shot. I just changed my password and maybe that's why it is showing that way. I might have had another account with a former work email. And I never log in. I just read, faithfully, read.

In Feb 2006, I had read seen Rep. Russell Bartlett do his presentation on Peak Oil on C-SPAN at the same time the Jack Aberhoff hearings were going on. I can remember all the congressmen and senators were falling all over themselves to get on camera at the Abermoff hearings to say "I am against corruption." Sen. Barrack Obama, the Rock Star he had become, even came fashionably late after being a late appointee to the group of Senators conducting the hearing. He stayed about 15 minutes, interrupted to say "I am against corruptions. And I gotta go. Other pressing business". And it wasn't to rush over to watch Russell Bartlett.

So on the other CSPAN channel there was Russell doing his presentation, with charts and graphs, to a virtually empty house chamber. And whoever was in the chamber was walking around, ignoring him, passing in front the camera. You can tell by my user name that data is my thing and I watched all of Russell's presentation. And I have often thought back about the difference between how something that hardly is even remembered now, Abermoff, grabbed all the attention and Peak Oil, the most important issue of our time, and the underlying reason behind the crash and prolonged recession, was virtually ignored.

A couple days later, I was in the Recommended Reading section of Barnes and Noble and there was The Long Emergency. I read the jacket cover and thought "Hey that was what that Bartlett guy was talking about". I bought it took it home, started reading, and I freaked out. I am sure most of you had that moment that changed you forever.

I mean I panicked and starting searching the web hoping to find something that said Kunstler was a quack. I didn't.

What I found was TOD and I have been regular since. It was the clearest source that seemed to make the most sense.

One comment a few years back called TOD "His Second Education". And I think that is the best description I can give this site. I mean, my god, the treatment of topics on this site, anything from nuclear physics, to European monetary policy, to Mexican security issues, and especially, the nuts and bolts of Oil and Gas exploration, production, refining, and distribution is phenomenal.

I commend all you for the work you have done and what you have personally meant to me for all these years. I know how long it takes to even read the Drum Beat comments and the work that the key contributors put in to compose the stories and the comments is huge.

We haven't always been right in predictions. But we really haven't been wrong either and I would stack up the predictive capability of this group up against any other source. Thanks to this forum, when the crashes of 2007 and 2008, I knew everything that would happen before it happened. It was eerie to me when Fannie Mae went under and I knew a year before that it would happen. In individual is far better off in following the advice given on this site, then he is if he had ignored it.

When the news, both hard news and economic news has been complex, this group has always had a way of giving true perspective about a myriad of subjects, and to me, it is the best example of what PostModernism and crowd sourced knowledge sharing offers.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

From a fellow lurker, I'd like to second that.

It's very rare that I feel that any comment I make will add anything more than noise.

The level of commitment to the analysis of the available data, coupled to the wealth of inside knowledge and hands-on experience is priceless. You are a lighthouse in the fog of mainstream dis-information.

Thank you one and all for your efforts.

My heading shows me as New. I am not New by a long shot.

I see you as having been here 5 years and 41 months.

Some new people are here to shill for their kickstarter project.

Others like TempleMyst jump right in.

Being new isn't something one has to explain, nor is not posting. People can participate to the level they are comfortable with. Hopefully you'll find something worthwhile in your future visits to TOD.

(and you should thank the moderators who help to steer things by deleting posts that stray too far out in one direction or 'ta 'nother. And ownership should also get a nod because they take time to keep this place up and running)

You are right that this is an amazing site and my epiphany was similar to yours. Beyond the technical expertise, the other laudable characteristic of this site is the relative absence of rancor between the different posters. It is not perfect but you will not find another site with this much decorum and respect for others' opinions. This, I am certain, is partly because of the way it is monitored by Leanan and others. But I think it is also a function of the kinds of people who are drawn to this forum. This is not a free for all, to be sure. However, the typical comment section on many others sites is so thoroughly rancorous and nasty that it is not worth reading through the comments.

I have often wondered about whether it would have been better to have never discovered Peak Oil, to be just fat, dumb, and happy, buying a new SUV because "soon we'll be energy independent with more oil than Saudi Arabia".

It might be corny to invoke the movie, The Matrix, and the Red Pill and Blue Pill metaphors. But once you take the Red Pill you can't go back.

Certainly the whole topic of Peak Oil has ebbed in social consciousness. I saw some site that talked about "Megatrends That Never Were and Peak Oil" was number 1. I can remember during late 2007 and during 2008, we had all those Wall Street types and a more mainstream audience hanging out on TOD. It was thrilling to see TOD people on CNN. I can remember a comment on the DrumBeat where the daily readership during that time was approaching that of some cable channels.

And I have had moments where I dissented and thought you were all just tin foil hat wearing nuts.

If you read all the reports coming out today about the narrowing trade gap or reduced imports due "to all this oil being discovered due to all these great technology improvements" you certainly could dissent.

But if you read Gail's current front page post you understand there is a reason that is more valid than what is being so celebrated, reduced Vehicle Miles Traveled and reduced manufacturing under the "Other Uses" category she refers other than gas or diesel due to demand destruction. And you can bet that TOD is the only place that this fact is mentioned.

So when your faith wanes, hang in there, keep reading, keep making astute choices, because as Jeffrey Brown says, to reduce debt, to downscale your life, will leave you in a better position even if the worst never happens.

In the previous drumbeat a comment said a study his group had performed predicted $208 per barrel prices by 2020. Members of the group asked for validation.

So one of the things I learned from TOD was rule of exponentiation, divide the rate of growth of a thing into 70 and that will give the "doubling period". By my math, for oil to double its price in 7 years only requires a 10% increase in price per year. I think that is completely feasible. The only reason that it should not happen is that some really really bad stuff happened to keep that from happening.

So hang in there. Keep reading. Peak something is just around the corner. I kind of hope it is Peak Kardashians but I am afraid that won't be the case. My gut says 2015 is going to be a bad year.

It's Roscoe Bartlett, not Russel Bartlett. Thanks for the kind words for TOD.

There are 3 wind generators outside the McDonalds on I44 south of Chickasha, OK that I had not seen (the style) before. I shall paste in a link to a photo; I could not figure out how to get the actual photo to show. Does anyone know anything about this type? Efficiency? Durability?



They are called The Energy Ball. I saw them at a trade show, must have been the AWEA Windpower 2010 Conference in Dallas. Seems like it was just last year that I saw it. I don't have any more information than what's available at the link but, I'm sure with the assistance of your favourite search engine you can find out more now that you know what they are!

I very quickly decided to drop wind as a focus for any renewable energy venture I go into. The economics of the giant machines are just so much better than the residential scale stuff and wind is such a location specific resource. You either have a good resource or you don't and most places in my neck of the woods don't. Sunshine here in the tropics is a whole 'nother story!

Alan from the islands

Thanks Alan. I hadn't seen these before, TICR.

I agree on the wind vs. sun thing. While either is location dependent, PV pretty much scales linearly. There's not much advantage in efficiency, whether one has one 200 watt panel or 2000 300-watters; just more output, with a bit of voltage advantage. Wind output scales exponentially. Then again, if I lived in the Great Plains...

I put another 960 watts PV online yesterday. Installed the charge controller, etc., last week. Now it's just a matter of racking the panels and plugging them in. Put four in service this weekend, 12 more to go. May they live long and help us prosper :-0

If you lived in the great plains, you'd probably have a substantial income from your wind farm leases!

Good going on the PV front! I hope to be able to join you guys in the PV realm in the next few weeks. I am very excited about some grid tied inverters I have found that, I am about to order so I can evaluate how well they tolerate Jamaica's strange voltage/frequency configuration (110/220V single phase at 50Hz). If these inverters work as advertised and I can get lots more at the price I'm currently seeing online, I'm in business!

Alan from the islands

You might want to try contacting the company you're buying from and see if they can reprogram the inverter to meet your specifications - it might be a simple matter for them. Do you have 2 legs and a ground such that leg to ground you get 110V and leg to leg you get 220V? That would be "split-phase" and not "single-phase."

Do you have 2 legs and a ground such that leg to ground you get 110V and leg to leg you get 220V?

Yes. I seem to remember that cobfiguration being described as I did and that's why I did not use the term split phase.

You might want to try contacting the company you're buying from and see if they can reprogram the inverter to meet your specifications - it might be a simple matter for them.

Believe me I've been trying. I attended the Intersolar trade show in 2011 and again in 2012 and visited the booths of all the major grid tied inverter manufacturers with my story. I most recently attended Solar Power International and did the same.

The problem is that the market for 110V-127V 50Hz devices is very small, Jamaica, Barbados and apparently a couple other countries or parts of countries. 100V 50Hz is an entirely different matter as the market in Japan is heating up and with the Japan's unique situation of having one section of it's grid at 50Hz and the other at 60hz, the market for 100V 50Hz inverters is likely to attract a few manufacturers (despite the Japanese preference for locally manufactured technology). I was at pains to point this out to the manufacturers I spoke to last year and implored them to consider making their grid tied products flexible enough to work both in Japan and Jamaica/Barbados. There is a possibility that some options will arise out of those discussions, with one major manufacturer introducing a model to the US that was based on a unit designed for Japan. I was told off the record that the new US model can be configured to work at 50Hz but, the product is yet to ship.

I've also been looking at Euro spec inverters but, the problem with many of those is that, the European neutral is grounded so one leg of their 230-240V single phase set up is grounded while, neither of the 220V legs in a 110/220V split phase set up is. The manufacturer of the inverter I am going to test, assures me that both legs can "float". Many installation in Jamaica use Euro spec inverters with a transformer but, I do not want to go into business, having to sell a 1-10kW transformer to every customer!

Alan from the islands


"I just about jumped for joy when I discovered that Xantrex had released new firmware which allowed selecting 50Hz on their XW models."

This thread would seem to suggest that Xantrex/Schnieder or Outback would be able to supply you with functioning units.


"If this is, in fact, the case, here is a golden opportunity that should not be missed. Approximately 60 years ago, I believe Jamaica changed over from 40 hertz to 50 hertz. Electrical devices that have motors and are sourced from the United States of America or Mexico, therefore, operate inefficiently as the frequency in these countries is 60 hertz. Once imported into Jamaica and put into operation, the motors run hot and slow and consume extra electricity/kilowatt-hours.

As consumers, we pay for this inefficiency with higher bills from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS). If the change was made to 60 hertz, the electricity consumed by the entire island would be reduced immediately, as less power would have to be produced.

PDF WARNING: http://www.sunwize.com/documents/Schneider%20Electric%20XW%20Software%20...

AC output voltage and operating frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) are now
configurable via Xantrex XWConfig and Xantrex XWConfigPro.

You need to talk to the engineers and not the sales fools - they only know the garbage they're sent out to spew. These things are software controlled, it should only be a matter of resetting the parameters to meet your grid specifications.

I just about jumped for joy when I discovered that Xantrex had released new firmware which allowed selecting 50Hz on their XW models

I cant tell you how many times I have read this thread and not noticed the quoted sentence, maybe because I was focusing on the quest for three phase solutions. I believe this character is someone I know. IIRC, I visited his house to do some work related to my current business and was intrigued by his setup, which he was more than willing to give me a tour of. The fact that, he "lived in Barbados for three years a long time ago" is one clue that he is a lawyer since, the law faculty of the University of the West Indies is in Barbados and Jamaicans reading for a law degree had to spend three years there. I have been meaning to visit his offices and ask him how his commercial three phase project is going.

Alan from the islands

Do you need three phase?


gman: In jamaica our service is 110/220 volt 50Hz split phase, are there any sma inverters that supports this?
Lorrie: Yes, we have inverters capable of this operation. You'll need to specify when ordering what grid they are for.
Lorrie Trukshyn
Sr. Technical Service Specialist, Communication

It looks like you should have options - but you'll need to find the right people to talk to. The SMA's appear to be good value since everything is integrated - panel combiner, DC disconnect, MPPT. They don't do battery backup with grid-interactive like the Outback and Schneider/Xantrex. They must not bombard their website with every specification available but if someone, such as yourself, is going to buy a number of units they will probably be more than happy to pay the software engineer for an hour's worth of work to change a few numbers in the code.

P.S. Hidden gorilla syndrome?

"I cant tell you how many times I have read this thread and not noticed the quoted sentence, maybe because I was focusing on the quest for three phase solutions."

Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight


There is a huge wind farm about 20 miles from us. We are close to the edge of that egg-shaped area that includes the TX panhandle and large parts of western Oklahoma. Wind works here even at night (or especially). We have solar for daytime. Our problem is we have a
"legacy" system: 2 4024 trace inverters, 12 L16 batteries, 24 120 watt Kyrocera(sp?) panels.
We did have a Whisper 200 but it came apart after 10 years. We are not grid tied but our battery bank is charged by the grid if at night or not enough sun. I'd like to upgrade/expand but no one knows anything about our set up anymore it seems. I will investigate the Energy Ball regarding output,etc.

Our two Trace 4024s are still cranking out the AC, along with our Outback. Hope to replace the Trace inverters soon with another Outback. Our L16s were replaced with big 2 volt cells a while back, and all charge controllers are now Outbacks. The original Trace C-40s have been retasked; one charges the battery at the chicken house, one is a load diverter, one is in the spare locker. Our Southwest X-400 WT is on the junk pile.

There is no "legacy" stuff. It's all good. Our original (1994) Siemens panels pump water for the garden and chickens. Collectively, the best investments I've ever made. The wind turbine was struck by lightning and one of the C-40s needed a repair once. That's it.

Re, Energy Ball: Homepower did a review/study of residential scale (1-20 Kw) wind turbines a few years ago. At the time, the consensus was that the turbines worth investing in were the heavy-duty, "beasty" turbines. Stay clear of the lightweights. Bergeys, Provens, a few others were mentioned. The Energy Ball doesn't look "beasty" to me. Go to Homepower.com and search their wind turbine articles.

Aren't those cute. They look fragile, almost like yard art. Don't have time to research them tonight; maybe someone does.

BTW: to post from Photobucket, click on "html code" to the right and the code should be copied. Then you can paste it into your comment. I try to edit photos down to under 50 KB (<40 is better) and 500 px wide or less.

According to the author, wind-generated electricity is now less expensive in Australia than either coal or NG-fired electricity generation. He claims this is true even when one factors out the cost of Australia's carbon tax.


Is Mr. Hartmann correct?

A couple of rebuttals are here


The big issues are unknown future costs .. carbon tax, the gas price and the value of renewable energy certificates. There's also the the issue of wind power reliability without an expensive overbuild or storage.

I read the first link and think it's quite reasonable.

A nit pick: the question of wind reliability is virtual non-existent. If sufficient wind is blowing then >90% of the time a turbine will produce power. The availability factors for wind (and solar) in this respect is better then coal, gas or nuclear. And wind/solar is quite predictable nowadays.

However, there is a problem of intermittency when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. But let's not forget that any other single power plant has about the same problem: if a coal plant needs repairs that means you lose several hundreds of megawatts which needs to be picked-up by reserve. Even worse, say you have a new French 3rd-gen nuke that produces 1600 MW then you will need at least the same amount of spinning reserve available in your grid just in case the transformer trips (which happens) and additional frequency reserve which has to replace that 1600 MW in a few milliseconds to keep the grid stable. Such expensive reserve is not needed for wind-power which due to is predictability and decentralized power production can suffice with mostly replacement reserve which is often cold reserve which is much cheaper. If a grid is able to compensate the sudden unexpected disappearance of (multiple) large central power plant(s) then technically it should certainly be able to compensate for predictable slow changes in wind/solar output. The predictability of wind shows in calculations of balancing costs which are quite low even at high penetration levels in several studies (in the order of 2 to 5$/MWh).

Embracing Collapse

KMO welcomes Paul Kingsnorth, co-founder of the Dark Mountain project to the the C-Realm Podcast to discuss the themes in his recent Orion magazine article, Dark Ecology: Searching for truth in a post-green world. Paul is critical of neo-environmentalists; environmental activists who have made peace with the logic of capitalism and the infinite growth paradigm. They see environmental stresses as technical problems which are best addressed with technological remedies, and they agree that anything that is real and worthy of consideration can be quantified by science and priced by the market. Anything else is wool-minded romanticism. KMO draws a parallel to cosmopolitan liberals who despise and ridicule their "red state" counterparts but who have made peace with the imperial wealth pump that makes their lavish cosmopolitian lifestyles possible

I haven't heard such a clear articulation of what's really ailing the environmental movement for a long time.

That interview springs from Paul Kingsnorth's recent article in Orion Magazine, Dark Ecology: Searching for truth in a post-green world. I share many of Kingsnorth's complaints regarding the state of the so-called "environmental movement". I became aware of environmental problems decades ago as a new resident of California when I found that the smog in the SF Bay Area at that time made me quite ill. I've joined in with others to attempt to change the situation thru political action and found the results generally a waste of time. The reason for this is the dawning awareness that the real problem is that society is so fundamentally flawed that the necessary basic change is ultimately impossible.

Those of us who worry about Peak Oil or Climate Change should know by now how difficult it will be to turn things around. Oh, sure, we as individuals can make major changes in our individual lives, but we are still trapped within the larger context of industrial civilization surrounded on all sides by people who have no clue or concerns about how these problems will impact their future. Perhaps Kingsnorth's conclusions, referring to comments from Ted Kaczynski, that change is impossible until the underlying system collapses, may turn out to be true. I may have hopes that this isn't true, but I see little progress after more than 40 years of observation...

E. Swanson

Though change is difficult and takes a long time, California has managed to get a grip on the smog problem. Especially down in LA. Between catalytic converters, careful fuel mixes, rigorous smog checking of vehicles, and fuel additives, the amount of smog is much lower now than a few decades ago and that is despite far more people living here now.

I don't know if we have that much time to deal with peak oil & climate change. But at least with the ZEV requirements will make sure that oil-free cars are available for purchase by those that want to take advantage of them. That will help with peak oil.

But climate change? . . . California is making an effort, especially with the big renewable portfolio standards. But climate change is a world-wide problem that requires action all over. Especially in places where they are burning down forests and building too many coal plants. But as I always say, I think it is going to take several catastrophic climate-changed caused events before humans start to address the problem seriously. Perhaps we have to lose a few coastal cities.