Drumbeat: May 3, 2013

JPMorgan Caught in Swirl of Regulatory Woes

Government investigators have found that JPMorgan Chase devised “manipulative schemes” that transformed “money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers,” and that one of its most senior executives gave “false and misleading statements” under oath.

The findings appear in a confidential government document, reviewed by The New York Times, that was sent to the bank in March, warning of a potential crackdown by the regulator of the nation’s energy markets.

...The JPMorgan case arose, according to the document, after the bank’s 2008 takeover of Bear Stearns gave the bank the rights to sell electricity from power plants in California and Michigan. It was a losing business that relied on “inefficient” and outdated technology, or as JPMorgan called it, “an unprofitable asset.”

Yet under “pressure to generate large profits,” the agency’s investigators said, traders in Houston devised a workaround. Adopting eight different “schemes” between September 2010 and June 2011, the traders offered the energy at prices “calculated to falsely appear attractive” to state energy authorities. The effort prompted authorities in California and Michigan to dole out about $83 million in “excessive” payments to JPMorgan, the investigators said. The behavior had “harmful effects” on the markets, according to the document.

Russia’s April Oil Output Near Post-Soviet Record, Ministry Says

Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer, boosted crude and condensate production 1.5 percent in April from a year earlier to 10.47 million barrels a day, close to a post-Soviet era record.

Daily output grew 0.2 percent from March, according to preliminary data sent by e-mail today from the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. The record of 10.49 million barrels was reached in November. Soviet-era production in Russia peaked at 11.48 million barrels a day in 1987.

Brent Advances a Second Day Before U.S. Employment Data

Brent crude rose for a second day, extending its biggest rally in six months, before a report that may show U.S. employers hired more staff in April.

Brent futures climbed as much as 0.8 percent, reversing an earlier decline of the same magnitude. U.S. payrolls increased by 140,000 workers following a gain of 88,000 in March, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 90 economists. The jobless rate stayed at 7.6 percent, matching the lowest since December 2008, the survey showed.

European Sour Crude to Stay Tight on Iran, Fuel Oil: JBC

Supplies of sour, or high sulfur, crude oil in Europe will continue to be tight because of the loss of Iranian and Syrian exports and “strong” refining margins for fuel oil, according to JBC Energy GmbH.

“Fuel oil is finding support in arbitrage to Asia,” and while exports of Urals crude from Russia may increase in June, “the continued loss of the bulk of Iranian and Syrian crude will keep the sour crude market tight in the region,” a JBC Energy team of analysts led by David Wech in Vienna said in a report today.

US oil supplies reach new peak amid shale boom

US oil stocks reached a new three-decade high and pressed crude prices lower Wednesday, as US oil production continued to surge while domestic demand remained anemic.

..."It's just indicative of these shale plays ramping up," said Matt Smith, an analyst at Schneider Electric, an energy management firm. "It tells us we're in the middle of an oil boom."

Alaska North Slope Oil Output Fell 5.8% in April, State Reports

Alaska’s North Slope has been yielding less oil every year since 2002 as output from wells naturally declines and isn’t replaced. March output decreased 4.9 percent from the year before. The shrinking supply has boosted foreign crude imports to the U.S. West Coast and prompted Flint Hills Resources LLC to shut a crude unit at the North Pole refinery last year because of rising oil prices.

OPEC Exports Seen Stable Amid ‘Glum’ Demand, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will keep shipments little changed this month as “glum” demand in the U.S. and Europe counters rising consumption in Asia, tanker tracker Oil Movements said.

The group that supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil will ship 23.67 million barrels a day in the four weeks to May 18, stable from 23.68 million in the previous period, the researcher said today in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude Angola and Ecuador. U.S. crude imports by tanker have fallen about 13 percent this year, the consultant said.

Nigeria’s oil exports to crash to lowest level in June

Crude oil exports from Nigeria will by June crash to lowest in nearly four years, shipping lists have shown, highlighting how badly theft from pipelines is affecting Africa’s largest economy.

Ethanol’s Discount to Gasoline Widens as Production Rates Climb

Ethanol’s discount to gasoline widened after a government report showed production of the biofuel climbed to the highest level in 10 months.

Petro-Canada stations running dry across Prairies

Some Petro-Canada stations in the Prairies are running out of gasoline because of some unexpected repairs that have to be done at an Edmonton refinery.

U.S. West Gasoline Strengthens as Supplies Fall to Seasonal Low

Spot gasoline on the U.S. West Coast surged against futures after the Energy Information Administration said regional stockpiles of the motor fuel dropped to a record low for this time of year.

What determines energy abundance? Flow.

Okay, I'm going to give you the shortest course ever in energy abundance: Energy abundance depends entirely on the RATE of energy flow. Let me say it again: Energy abundance depends entirely on the RATE of energy flow.

Now, here is what it does NOT depend on: supposed, but often unverified, fossil fuel reserves in the ground; hypothetical, sketchy, guesstimated, undeveloped, undiscovered resources imagined to be in the ground by governments or by energy companies and often deceptively referred to as "reserves"*; claims about future technological breakthroughs; mere public relations puffery about abundance in the face of record high average oil prices.

Statoil Profit Slides More Than Estimated as Production Declines

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest energy company, said profits fell by 29 percent in the first quarter on lower oil and gas output in Norway, Brazil and as a terrorist attack shut a facility in Algeria.

Angola Plans to Simplify Tax Codes to Boost Non-Oil Revenue

Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, plans to simplify taxation and more than double revenue from sources other than petroleum to curb the government’s reliance on crude.

The target is to pass three tax codes this year that will cut fees and modernize laws, some which date from 1948, Gilberto Luther, director of the reform project, said in an interview on April 29 in Luanda, the capital. The changes will increase receipts from industries including manufacturing and retail to about 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2017 from 8 percent in 2011, he said. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer, non-oil tax was 6.3 percent of GDP in 2011.

Japan spots three Chinese government ships near disputed islets

TOKYO (KUNA) -- Three Chinese government surveillance ships were spotted near Japanese territorial waters off the disputed islands in the East China Sea on Friday, the Japan Coast Guard said.

Billionaire Kaiser Exploiting Charity Loophole With Boats

When Oklahoma energy billionaire George Kaiser opened the Northeast Gateway liquid natural gas terminal in 2008, the floating depot’s first delivery was shipped on the Excellence, a 909-foot supertanker that holds 138,000 cubic meters of LNG -- enough gas to meet more than 4 percent of daily U.S. demand.

The Excellence is owned by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a charitable organization that also owned a 36 percent stake in Solyndra LLC, the Fremont, California-based solar system maker that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan.

Duke Earnings Rise as Cool Temperatures Boost Heat Demand

Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. utility owner, said first-quarter profit rose as cooler temperatures than a year earlier boosted demand for power.

Net income increased to $634 million million, or 89 cents a share, from $295 million, or 66 cents, a year earlier, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke said in a statement today on PR Newswire. Excluding one-time items, per-share profit was $1.02, one cent less than the average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Rocks in India Coal Supply Means More Power Blackouts: Energy

Dharmendra Kumar owes his job to rocks masquerading as coal.

He drives a payloader at NTPC Ltd., the country’s largest electricity producer, scooping out boulders from mountains of coal disgorged from open-topped railway cars. He drops the rocks, some as large as a bathtub, into a pile forming its own mountain at NTPC’s Dadri power plant in north India.

The pile of rubble represents a brewing conflict between state-owned Coal India Ltd (NTPC). and NTPC that’s threatening to cut electricity supplies in 20 states across India, Asia’s third- biggest economy. The country already has a 9 percent shortage of power at peak demand, shaving about 1.2 percentage points from gross domestic product, according to government estimates.

PetroChina's Sichuan refinery has no clear start date after quake

(Reuters) - PetroChina has yet to decide when it will start up its new $6 billion refinery complex in China's landlocked southwest, after local residents expressed safety concerns following an earthquake two weeks ago, according to a company statement.

The company would go through "stringent check and approval procedures according to national standards," before deciding on a start-up schedule, it said in a statement published on Friday on sina.com and cited by a PetroChina media official.

Gazprom Granted Four Arctic Gas Fields

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government bypassed a state tender to grant Gazprom on Friday the right to explore four gas fields in the northern Barents Sea.

The four offshore fields hold an estimated 1.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, according to figures provided in the decree of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Russia produced 655 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2012, according to official statistics.

Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in West, Study Finds

The rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing to retrieve once-inaccessible reservoirs of oil and gas could put pressure on already-stressed water resources from the suburbs of Fort Worth to western Colorado, according to a new report from a nonprofit group that advises investors about companies’ environmental risks.

“Given projected sharp increases” in the production of oil and gas by the technique commonly known as fracking, the report from the group Ceres said, “and the intense nature of local water demands, competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policy makers and investors.”

Could fracking solve China's energy problems?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that China may have as much as 1,275 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves — 50 percent more than the U.S., which has already extracted enough natural gas from shale to put it on a path to energy independence. Unlocking those resources would help China meet its enormous energy demands, while allowing it to cut down on coal — one of the main causes of the deadly, off-the-charts pollution clogging up the country.

But progress toward natural gas production has barely budged. So far only 60 shale exploration wells have been set up, compared to about 200,000 in the U.S. And production remains at zero.

Enbridge Expansion Could Turn Into Keystone-Like Fight

A new front may soon open in the battle over pipelines that transport Canadian oil to the U.S.

And this one involves a line that would carry even more oil derived from Alberta’s tar sands than TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL, a project that has inflamed environmentalists who say it would exacerbate climate change.

Japanese-French consortium to build Turkish nuclear plant

ANKARA — A Japanese-French consortium has won a $22 billion dollar contract to build a nuclear power plant on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, a senior energy ministry official said on Thursday.

“An inter-governmental agreement is expected to be signed between the prime ministers of both countries (Turkey and Japan) on Friday,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Duke suspends COL application for new Harris nuclear plant reactors

Boston (Platts) - Duke Energy told the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday that it plans to "suspend" its application for a combined construction and operating license for two new nuclear units at Duke Energy Progress's Harris nuclear station in Wake County, North Carolina.

'A very fragile situation': Leaks from Japan's wrecked nuke plant raise fears

TOKYO — Like the persistent tapping of a desperate SOS message, the updates keep coming. Day after day, the operators of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant have been detailing their struggles to contain leaks of radioactive water.

The leaks, power outages and other glitches have raised fears that the plant — devastated by a tsunami in March 2011 — could even start to break apart during a cleanup process expected to take years.

Fusion Scientists See Progress as Obama Shows No Ardor

Bishop is a fusion evangelist. He has devoted six years to this corner of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wielding a laser that delivers 1,000 times more energy than the U.S. electrical grid at any instant in time. If the laser can spark atoms to fuse in a self-sustaining reaction known as ignition -- the equivalent of a laboratory-scale microbomb -- scientists may be on their way to rewarding the planet with unlimited and nonpolluting energy, Bishop says.

“Fusion is a rich source of power,” he says.

Cross-Country Solar Plane Expedition Set for Takeoff

Conceived of as a grand demonstration of what can be done with clean technologies — a Jules Verne-style adventure with a dash of P. T. Barnum thrown in — the project has more practical implications. While it could be decades, at least, before ordinary travelers line up to board solar electric planes, the technology is under consideration for drones, which risk damage each time they land to refuel.

Renewable energy firms accuse activists of scaremongering over biomass

A major row has broken out between green campaigners and companies using wood, straw, waste and other "biomass" fuels to run power stations over how environmentally friendly such fuels are.

Water Conservation Becomes a Higher Priority in U.A.E.

DUBAI — Running a farm is not easy in the Middle East, part of a region, along with North Africa, defined by the World Bank as the most water-scarce in the world.

Russia set for its biggest ever wind farm

RUSSIA: Russia's largest wind power plant is expected to be built in the southern Stavropol region by 2015.

Kazakhstan to launch biggest solar power station

According to the press-service, the power station with an average annual generation capacity of 65 million kWh will become the biggest solar pant in Kazakhstan. The project is estimated at $93.1 million.

Indonesia Aims To Build 36 Solar Power Plants In 2013

The Indonesian government has allocated a higher budget for solar development this year. The government is planning to build 36 new solar power plants especially in isolated and border areas.

Peaks islanders fight peak oil with weatherization effort

Helping people tighten up their island homes against the sometimes brutal Maine winters, exacerbated by winds off Casco Bay, is an easy sell, especially as the realization settles in that cheap fuel is a thing of the past.

And it's a relatively inexpensive investment with a quick and long-term return.

The giants of the green world that profit from the planet's destruction

Now it turns out that some of these groups are literally part-owners of the industry causing the crisis they are purportedly trying to solve. And the money the green groups have to play with is serious. The Nature Conservancy, for instance, has $1.4bn (£900m) in publicly traded securities, and boasts that its piggybank is "among the 100 largest endowments in the country". The Wildlife Conservation Society has a $377m endowment, while the endowment of the World Wildlife Fund–US is worth $195m.

Let me be absolutely clear: plenty of green groups have managed to avoid this mess. Greenpeace, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and a host of smaller organisations such as Oil Change International and the Climate Reality Project don't have endowments and don't invest in the stock market. They also either don't take corporate donations or place such onerous restrictions on them that extractive industries are easily ruled out. Some of these groups own a few fossil fuel stocks, but only so that they can make trouble at shareholder meetings.

Study Finds No Single Cause of Honeybee Deaths

WASHINGTON — The devastation of American honeybee colonies is the result of a complex stew of factors, including pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition and a lack of genetic diversity, according to a comprehensive federal study published on Thursday. The problems affect pollination of American agricultural products worth tens of billions of dollars a year.

The most insane roommate ads ever posted on Craigslist

I would like to assemble a house full of people who, like me, are preparing for the fast-approaching zombie apocalypse, also known as peak oil, economic collapse, peak water, and so on. My patience with head-in-the-sand, "optimistic" people is wearing thin and, while I can't do much about my co-workers, I would prefer to live among people who are a bit more courageous.

I work. I drive. I shop. I do these things as little as possible, though, and usually only in the service of my dream: complete withdrawal from the capitalist system. I don't want to play this game any more and I hope to find people who feel the same.

As much as possible, this house will function as a tiny transition town. We will build a community strong enough to survive collapse and wise enough to shape the life that follows. Extra points will go to runners, practicing meditators, gardeners & farmers, urban foragers, WWOOFers, and fans of the following: The Extraenvionmentalist, the C-Realm, Radio EcoShock, Chris Hedges, Gar Alperovitz, Michael Parenti, Steve Keen, Dimitry Orlov, Daniel Suelo, and Michael Ruppert.

This is the end: Team of experts say humanity faces extinction

A team of mathematicians, philosophers and scientists at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute say there is ever-increasing evidence that the human race’s reliance on technology could, in fact, lead to its demise.

The group has a forthcoming paper entitled “Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority,” arguing that we face a real risk to our own existence. And not a slow demise in some distant, theoretical future. The end could come as soon as the next century.

EU Factories Double Use of UN Carbon Credits Last Year in Survey

Power stations and factories in the European Union’s emissions market probably doubled their use of United Nations carbon offsets to meet their pollution limits last year, according to a survey of analysts.

EU Factories Used Fewer Carbon Offsets Than Expected in 2012

Factories and power stations in the European Union surrendered 500 million carbon offsets to cover emissions last year, 20 percent less than analysts estimated.

Keystone Foes Seek Climate Measures in Case They Lose

President Barack Obama is being pressed by opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline to tie any approval to measures that would curb climate change, reflecting mounting pressure on the administration to mitigate the project’s impact if it goes forward.

Energy secretary urges Michael Gove to reinstate climate change on curriculum

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has written a private letter to Michael Gove, the education secretary, urging him to rethink his plans to downgrade climate change in the new national curriculum.

Amid protests from environmentalists and some students, Gove has removed debate about climate change from the draft geography curriculum.

Is the federal government turning Canadian science into for-profit only?

Science is under attack in Canada.

It's hard to have to write that, given that Canada has some of the leading scientists and research facilities in the world, but it's also hard to draw any other conclusion, based on what the federal government has been up to for the past 7 years.

Midwest 'Weather Whiplash' Sign of Climate Change

The term "weather whiplash" is being invoked to describe the drought-flood cycles beginning to take over the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

The cause of the maddening weather extremes and their huge and varied consequences is none other than climate change, according to a new report by the climate science communication organization Climate Nexus, and backed by climate researchers.

Six months after Sandy, N.J. is still not building smarter

As we move forward in the aftermath of the storm, we are not doing so in a way that will better protect our communities and environment. Instead, the governor is taking away transparency and oversight, ignoring climate change and allowing rebuilding to move forward in the same places that were just destroyed.

Australia joins climate displacement group

Australia is being urged to take a leading role in the protection of people forced to leave their homeland because of climate change.

Would we give up burgers to stop climate change?

If you find it demoralizing that we are incinerating the planet and dooming future generations simply because too many of us like to eat cheeseburgers, here’s that good news I promised: In their report, Goodland and Anhang found that most of what we need to do to mitigate the climate crisis can be achieved “by replacing just one quarter of today’s least eco-friendly food products” — read: animal products — “with better alternatives.” That’s right; essentially, if every fourth time someone craved, say, beef, chicken or cow milk they instead opted for a veggie burger, a bean burrito or water, we have a chance to halt the emergency.

What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like?

There’s no libertarian choice here. A huge, global challenge like climate change is inevitably going to mean more government action and intrusion. The choice is, do you want managed big government, with a bounded set of plans and some amount of oversight built in, or do you want panicked big government, responding to migrations, famines, and conflict? I’m not exactly excited about either choice, but the former definitely strikes me as the lesser of two evils.

With Arctic sea ice vulnerable, summer melt season begins briskly

The Arctic saw a record loss of summer sea ice in 2012, and the 2013 melt is off to a faster start than a year ago. Another record is uncertain, but warming has sapped the ice's staying power.

White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral

National security officials worried by rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice overlook threat of permanent global food shortages.

UN says 2012 was 9th-hottest year since 1850

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Meteorological Organization says last year was the ninth-warmest since record-keeping began in 1850, despite the cooling effect of the weather pattern called La Nina.

The U.N.'s weather agency says this marks the 27th year in a row the global average temperature — 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14.45 degrees Celsius) in 2012 — surpassed the 1961-1990 average.

The weather is getting schizophrenic, like many climate scientists predicted.
While 2012 is one of the hottest years on record, the spring of 2013 is one of the coldest Americans have experienced ever, as well.
What do you think people remember? Then there's the whole "temperatures are stagnant on a 5 year average basis" thing, too.

The thing is, the climate isn't the same as weather. We might easily face an abrupt rise in temperatures the next year, or the year after that.
And we still don't know the implications of the rapidly diminishing ice of the north pole, for instance, which the guardian article was about.

Meanwhile, the New York Times, a 'progressive/liberal' newspaper just shut down it's green/environment blog. Many climate reporters have been axed in cutbacks.

Still, it's a constant question. Will Peak Oil nullify many climate change effects? Aleklett of ASPO seems to think so. The Norway study out this year claimed that we're looking at an 1.9 Celsius increase by 2100, not 3 Celsius(and that study didn't take Peak Oil into account).

Ambiguity, ambiguity.

"Will Peak Oil nullify many climate change effects?"

Peak oil and Climate Change are symbiotic issues. From 1991 and a review of a National Academy of Science report on climate change we get the definition of the original "No Regrets" policy:

“The panel’s “no regrets” strategy starts with emissions-reducing initiatives that would pay for themselves in greater economic efficiency. High on this list is energy conservation for buildings, vehicles and industrial processes.”

Or this one from that time, by G.Marland:

“The concept of no-regrets policies is that there are actions which have merit on other criteria, that we might responsibly pursue anyway, that would slow the rate of growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These are actions for which we would have no retrospective regrets even if he risks of climate change turn out to have been overstated. Some of the proposed measures would seek to limit the magnitude or rate of climate change while others would simply try to anticipate and accommodate the changes which occur. It is in this context that we return to the issues of forestry. Forests are perceived as king fundamentally “good” and most plans to confront global climate change include some effort to maintain and/or increase the amount of carbon which is stored in forests.”

The bottomline is that the world should apply a “No Regrets” policy to climate change because we have to get off of fossil fuels anyways.

Leanan's link,What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like? , above, matches my assessment quite well as to why we won't respond to climate change with any sort of "wartime mobilisation policies". Collectively, globally, humans will keep burning enough stuff to cement global climate forcing for the foreseeable future:

Let’s pause right here for a second. This entire project is premised on the notion that harsh climate impacts will eventually spur the public to demand emergency action from governments. That is, to put it mildly, a debatable premise. I’ve always thought people put way too much faith in it. It’s really, really difficult to know what kind of impact would be big or frequent enough to spur that kind of public unity, especially directed at climate change mitigation (as opposed to adaptation). After all, no one will be able to prevent climate disasters within their lifetime through mitigation — the next 50 years of climate change are already “baked in.” So we’re talking about the peoples of the U.S. and the world rallying around emergency measures, wartime sacrifices, on behalf of future generations.

"No Regrets" suggests a real-time reaction to what must be a multi-generational process. Systematically throwing out the old and administering new, more Earth friendly policies, and maintaining such, will be rife with pain and regret for virtually everyone currently invested in how things are. There is no perception, en masse, that climate change is some Nazi Horde crawling across the countryside, coming for YOU... And there is no "we" to respond,, not globally. World-wide, resource consumption, including fossil fuels, remains at or near all time highs 15 years after Kyoto. Things will have to get really bad, for the majority, before any truly meaningful top-down responses can occur. By that time, there'll be plenty of regrets to go around, and 7+ billion humans will still be burning whatever they can to try and provide for their short-term needs.


"No Regrets" suggests a real-time reaction to what must be a multi-generational process. Systematically throwing out the old and administering new, more Earth friendly policies, and maintaining such, will be rife with pain and regret for virtually everyone currently invested in how things are.

While it may be just a minuscule drop of hope in what can sometimes seem an overwhelming sea of doom, I must admit that my eyes became a bit moist as I watched The Solar Impulse live, taking off from Moffett Airfield at 6:00 AM PST with a most gorgeous sunrise as a backdrop over San Francisco Bay! They are flying across the US.

Just too beautiful for words with the best that humanity can muster on display.
Live now at: live dot solarimpulse dot com forward slash number sign

Thanks for the heads-up, Fred. Watching live (live.solarimpulse.com), includes instrument readouts, current course (looks like he got off course for a bit), live view from ze plane, and live radio coms. What fun!

(looks like he got off course for a bit),

Yeah, he had to because he stayed put at a certain altitude while they sorted out his tracking chopper which had technical issues and ended up not even taking off LOL! Then there were some side winds while he waited. Then ATC had to keep him out of traffic. But he is now slowly getting back to his original course and climbing again.

Looking at his "solar generator" and "battery status", earlier his solar generator was in the mid 20% range and his battery had dropped below 70%. Now showing solar and battery both at 77%, so he's flying on solar and still charging the battery since the sun is higher. Pretty cool. Engine at 29%.

Update: I was curious if, when solar production got above 80% and battery charge increased beyond a certain point, they would increase engine power. The controler has now suggested he increase engine power to 4KW per engine and increase altitude. Engine power up to 35% (from 28%) and altitude increasing. The graph shows a planned alt of around 20,000 ft. Currently showing 11,250.

It's sort of like me telling my wife "the batteries are almost charged; go ahead and do your laundry and start the dishwasher".

The batteries are now at 100% charge, and the controller asked the pilot to increase power to the motors to 4.5KW. I expect that, as long as the batteries are at full charge, they'll try to use all available solar energy to the engines. Sounds like a regular day, here at house.

Engine power up to 42%, solar generator down to around 70%, likely indicating that the batteries are charged and they now have surplus solar power (was over 80%).

Power now at 47%, batteries maintaining full charge.

It's just a beautifully balanced machine and system and it works, Biatches!!!

"If you base medicine on science, it cures people. If you base the design of planes on science, they fly. If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. It works, b**ches"
-Richard Dawkins


Of course Eric Raymond had the "Sunseeker" long before Solar Impulse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcWSI03NKo0

I would be more excited if instead of solar planes we were putting this much attention on lighter-than-air Zeppelins etc which seem a lot more sustainable to me. When a solar plane is only going 40 MPH what is the point? We already know zeppelins can go faster than this.
I suppose all experimentation is useful and could lead somewhere but this may be somewhat in the category of electric self-driving connected Autos which actually already exist in the more familiar less novel and thus more boring technology of trains.

I am more excited by the Vermont Sail Freight Project Kunstler's cast of 2 weeks ago covered trying to get sail powered vessels back plying Lake Champlain and down the Hudson as the rudimentary revival of the waterways traffic once filling all the waterways of the USA with very little energy use.

Yeah, these won't be transport or passenger planes. However, they can be quite useful as things like drones and cheap communication-satellite-like devices.

If they can build one that can fly 24/7, imagine that as a drone . . . big brother that is ALWAYS up there. Scary.

The pilot, Piccard, is doing an interview from the cockpit, saying that there won't be solar powered commercial planes for a long time, if ever, but that this is meant as a demonstration of the viability of solar power in many other applications. No need to demonstrate that to me. We're currently producing ove 2KW on a quite overcast day.

I would be more excited if instead of solar planes we were putting this much attention on lighter-than-air Zeppelins etc which seem a lot more sustainable to me.

The fact that this technology is being applied in an aircraft is practically irrelevant and I gather from your comment that you are too focused on that and therefore are missing the true point! Which is to make it glaringly obvious to a wide audience that if a plane can fly non stop day and night on this technology, imagine how much more we could be doing it with down here on the ground.

Now having said that let me agree with you and say I also share your excitement the Vermont Sail Freight and a few others like it.


Right! As I keep saying- just do it. And don't forget that being in at the beginning of the inevitable solar revolution can be huge FUN. I continue to be amazed at the speedy and enthusiastic creativity engendered by my simple little ploy of buying big bunches of low cost PV and selling them one-off at cost to local people with ideas.

Why would I do that? No ROI? On the contrary, real big return- because I like to see what happens, and would far rather see my surplus cash doing that instead of sitting around doing nothing but wait for me to depart.

Think of how much more we could do- energy storage refrigeration, freezing and AC, all run only when sun shines. Cars running on compressed solar air, think of torpedo engines. Bldgs with total insulation- Endless!

Then, when the work's all done, make a solar powered me-carrying vulture to let me drift around all day in the ridge updraft along with all my feathered friends, ill-visaged tho they be.

Yes, I too am very excited about the Vermont Sail Freight Project as well. Very cool.

I would also like to see a huge revitalization of those boring trains too. ;-)

I think as-low-tech-as-personally/locally-manageable-as-possible may be the best way to go. (They have the Sail Transport Network on the west coast too.)

When something goes wrong, it's nice and self-empowering to be able to more or less fix it oneself and/or within a local-community context, and with as-local-as-possible resources, rather than wait for parts from unknown entities from far away.

The problem with the hypothesis that harsh climate impacts will force change is that none of the solutions offered will have any impact on the harsh climate being faced by people at the time this "pressure to change" manifests itself. For arguments sake lets assume that at this hypothetical point everybody accepts that CO2 needs to be reduced. Lets further assume that they implement EVERY suggestion made by Bill Mckibben or his followers- so what? None of those changes are going to have any impact on what people are experiencing at that moment - perhaps not even for decades after that.

What is more likely is that like Easter Islanders we will build bigger statues- bigger civil engineering works (consuming more fossil fuels) to build sanctuaries from what they are experiencing at that moment. People will be looking for solutions that can save them NOW not for solutions that will save three generations from now.

crazyv, you are so right! Let's just all party on until our children can't Makes perfect sense to me. Though I hope I'm not around to have to tell my own son that we didn't even figure it was worth trying to change things cause he wouldn't be able to either. Great plan you got there pardner! I guess suicide is painless, though it brings on many changes and you can take or leave it if you like... Wow and this morning I was soaring with eagles.

Forget what 'they' will buy into. What do YOU accept and want? What are YOU willing to commit to?

I have a $70 induction cooktop on order that will be my next experiment in eliminating my consumption of propane.

Can I boil large batches of water without shortening the lifetime of the batteries in my photovoltaic system?

I have a vacuum insulated thermos to store boiling water heated during the day for use at night reducing propane or electric power consumption when cooking supper. The induction cooktop has 5 power settings. I hope the 700 W setting will boil water in about the same time as my 600 W microwave oven. I might need another photovoltaic panel to do it without discharging the batteries at all.

I am committing to a more energy efficient cooking appliance and storing boiling water in a thermos. I might need to purchase a stainless steel pot and another photovoltaic panel.

What else are people doing?

I'd love to play with induction heat at some point.

One of my ideas is to look at simple Solar Ovens, and reapply the concept into something that (with considerable effort) would be built into the house as a standard, daily appliance.

This could require a substantial design shift for some part of the roof or adjacent wall, a concentrator of several tracked mirrors, a conduit space (could carry either the concentrated light beam, or perhaps a transfer fluid.. but I'm inclined towards Light.).. and the oven, which would appear to be a no-nonsense oven.

It would, of course be an oven that simply gets hot whenever the sun is up, however, and so it might include a fan and vents on its face that blows the heat into the living space when it's not being used for cooking, or to have it heating water that is stored and insulated so the homeowner can access that heat. It would also be quite easy to control the mirrors or gate the conduit such that you can keep this heat out and off when not wanted. If this item is built in like this, it would be very easy to start creating habits of setting up slow-cooking meals that you'd put in there for sunny days, to be ready when you get home. (A backup oven-coil would also probably be essential, given the vagaries of the weather sometimes)

Real care would need to be made around an unattended concentrator and light-pipe, as I live in an old, wooden house, but that's not impossible. It would also need a controller that could be set up for both cooking time (and might have some kind of algorhythm for 'how long at how hot', so you have some consistency on partly/cloudy days, as well as the controller being able to switch the system over to backup heat given the right conditions, or even a remote instruction by phone.. ?

Like many things, this would be pricey or tough to set up, but would pay for itself in a long, slow steady bake! (IMO)

Sounds cool, Jo... We use a 'Global Sun Oven' on a daily basis. If we're not cooking something in it, we heat up a pot of water, 'cause when can't you use a little extra hot water? I have long toyed with ideas similar to what you describe, 'though not nearly as comprehensive. Home Power I'm pretty sure at some pt. had an article about a building integrated sun oven. Then there's the Heat Retention Solar Oven, which I got excited about building with some friends a few years back, and had kind of forgotten about when it didn't happen. So thanks for the reminder: "webplaces dot org frwd slash solaroven frwd slash"

Don't bother trying to spell out URLs like that. That's what spammers do; your comment will be put in the moderation queue any way. Might as well just post the real URL, and make it easy on yourself and everyone else.

Great Article!

One of my main changes from their sketches is to put the oven door back onto the side, and if an Indoor Unit can be on an exterior wall, then the heat intake could be on the back or better, the bottom with a Stainless Mirror to reflect a beam up onto the bottom of the Ovenbox, with ample room for Thermal Mass and Insulation on back, top and sides.. making the Box out of some old Iron, Aluminum or Stainless item.

I would also create a thick, insulated door that would cover the intake, and one for the the oven door, when losses need to be cut. These doors need to be very easy and plain to operate, and a lot of attention must go into making them simply natural to use, and not awkward or cumbersome.

Can I boil large batches of water without shortening the lifetime of the batteries in my photovoltaic system?

Solution 1:

GEK or other style (Vermont Wood Chip stove) of wood gassifyer. (building one from a great depression vintage iron pipe as the firebox area)

Solution 2:

Evacuated glass tube solar. Good enough to sterlize with, good enough for water heating.

Yes, an evacuated glass tube solar hot water panel would do better than my solar hot water panel that uses a vinyl hose, but at a much higher price and risk of freeze damage. I have a wood stove, but it operates only on cold days making cooking and boiling water with it seasonal.

I intend to do more than boil water because the induction cooktop is supposed to substitute for a propane powered cook stove and possibly reduce the use of a less energy efficient microwave oven. The issue is whether doing so will increase or decrease the burden on my batteries. If the induction cooktop will boil water using the 500 W or 700 W modes, then it will reduce the burden. If I can do this with a PV system rated at 742 W, then it should be easy for people with larger systems.

Cooking using propane is my last primary use of propane. I have either eliminated or relegated its use to backup systems that, so far, have been unnecessary. My following consumptions of propane are history:

1. hot water tank;
2. heating my house;
3. refrigerator;
4. backup generator for my PV system;
5. pilot lights;
6. leakage;
7. baking.

Using 3.5 gallons of propane per year to cook is the last obstacle to overcome in my endeavor to eliminate the use of this evil fossil fuel. Let's, dear yeast, tilt at windmills.

but at a much higher price and risk of freeze damage.

Higher price - VS the price of propane over time?

Freeze damage - that is solvable also. Ritter just recirculates warm water from the system back into the array. You could use an antifreeze system. Depending on the type or evacuated glass tubes you could just got for drainback.

Once one has land and sunlight - the "problems" are as solvable depending on how much effort one wishes to put forth.

Yes, $1000 for an evacuated tube solar hot water panel is too much. One has to add the price of the heat exchanger, pressure tank for boiling water, fittings and pump.

3.5 gallons of propane per year for cooking (not just boiling water) at $4 / gallon costs $1000 after 71 years which is greater than my remaining lifetime. A SHWP for boiling water fails the cost analysis for such a limited use.

Compare this to less than $100 for parts to make a solar hot water panel that heats a gallon of water to 160 F in 30 minutes on a good day, but is not useful for cooking because I do not trust the vinyl hose not to contaminate the water.

Compare it to $70 for the induction cooktop, $30 for a 2 quart stainless steel pot and $284 for an additional Kyocera KD-140 PV panel which would have additional uses. I already have a good thermos and iron skillets. I need to cook in addition to boiling water on demand.

Like Ghung, I am looking for ways to utilize my surplus electricity on sunny days. The challenge is to eliminate propane use both technically and economically. $400 for an induction cooktop does not qualify and neither does an evacuated tube SHWP. Although I could build one inexpensively from black basalt, I continually reject a solar oven because I do not want to go outside to bake nor have food ruined due to clouds.

3.5 gallons of propane has an enthalpy of combustion of:

density of liquid propane at 25 C: 0.493 g/cm3
enthalpy of combustion of propane: 50 MJ/kg
3.5 gallons = 13,249 cm3

50 MJ/kg * .493 g/cm3 * 13,249 cm3 * .001 kg/g = 327 MJ = 91 kWh

My overbuilt PV system probably generates about 300 kWh/year that is unused. It is enough power to replace my remaining consumption of propane, but I need to do it in a way that does not burden my batteries nor generate excessive costs for equipment.

Googl: "Solar-Powered Autoclave Comes In Handy In Remote Areas" from ubergizmo

Buy little, do little, burn little. Eat raw. Play more, love more.

By that time, there'll be plenty of regrets to go around, and 7+ billion humans will still be burning whatever they can to try and provide for their short-term needs.

That will be strange, as it will have finally sunk in the dire situation adding carbon to the atmosphere has developed into, yet, we will still burn FF for energy and profits knowing it's implications.

By the way, I get a sardonic kick out of that term 'No Regrets', as it attempts to pre-empt any responsibility, apparently letting humankind off the hook for whatever hell is unleashed on ourselves and all other species via having burned so much FF, all in the name of moving forward. "Oh look, it's another continent wide storm that will cause untold damage, but as they say, no regrets."

I see the "No Regrets" path as something that people around here have talked about quite a bit - making long term solutions work in the short term, too.

If you expend all of your resources transitioning yourself to a "post-peak" world...but your preparations don't work in the pre-peak times and you go bankrupt as a result and lose it all...you'll have "regrets."

If on the other hand your preparation works in the here and now, and will continue to work post-peak - no regrets. That's my interpretation of the concept.

The weather is getting schizophrenic, like many climate scientists predicted.

Well, anecdotally it sure seems that way. I had a heat advisory the other day for 100 degree F here in Northern California. Meanwhile, relatives back in Minnesota were getting a few inches of snow . . . in May. (I know it is Minnesota but even there, snow in May just doesn't happen.)

Snow in may hardly ever happens. We had a big snow storm May 1 in southern MN. However there are precedents. It is rather depressing though.

"Will Peak Oil nullify many climate change effects?"

I think peak oil could worsen climate change. Instead of oil, there may be a mad rush to use coal and an increase of use of tar sands (which are more CO2 intensive than conventional oil).

And to chopping down forests.

We're just getting out of a 6 month winter in Alberta, so everybody's talking about it here, also.

Very good article in the December issue of Scientific American about how the melting arctic is screwing with the jet stream and making it stay in one place for longer periods of time. Causing drought, floods, deep freezes, etc. Behind a paywall, though.

Well, fortunately, it appears that the jet stream moved just in time for us here in Northern Colorado. The lack of snow all winter meant we were headed for disaster this summer. But we got record snows in April and now are up to 98% in my river basis. They are still suffering in Southern Colorado, however.

Anyway, weather seems to be more of a crap shoot than ever

My sister lives in N Colorado, and does wildfire work. Its great that at least this year they should get a break. The 500mb charts are just looking bizarre, I'm not sure I'd call it a jetstream: everything south of about 50N is just really weak and meadering. Highs and lows seem to be forming in odd places and moving in odd directions -or not at all.

Very bullish numbers out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment down to 7.5 percent. I just saw Brent crude hit $104.50, WTI at $95.40. Easing back slightly now however. All markets are up.

Ron P.

Unemployment down to 7.5%. That's a good laugh. The Labor Participation rate is now at 1979 levels.

Yes, there's a lot of activity out there, especially in the housing market. This shouldn't be a surprise as the Fed is buying $40 billion a month in MBS. We are in the SECOND GREAT HOUSING BUBBLE.

We'd likely see a drop in the labor participation rate anyway, just because of basic demographics. The oldest baby boomers are turning 67 this year - full retirement age for social security. The fat bulge of the baby boom is hitting age 55 now, the minimum retirement age for many pension plans.

Yes, this is partly true. However, I believe John Williams over at ShadowStats.com, does a much better job with his alternative unemployment figure which stands at 23%.

Either way, does it really matter?

I think it matters. If people are not participating because they've hit retirement age don't want want or need to work, it's a very different story from people who want to work but have given up on finding a job.

Leanan... let me rephrase. Govt statistics today are meaningless. The GDP figures are just as tainted as the unemployment figures.

In that regard, figures such as these really don't matter.

I've been wondering how many of these "dropped off the labor force" people are working, but off the books. Consumer spending is holding up too well for the participation rate. Or we are dropping back to one-earner families, and it's now the women with the steady paycheck while the men freelance for extra cash, and I do mean cash only.

There is more than one way to stop contributing to the capitalist system. Or at least the crony-capitalist system.

Not sure I understand how working off the books is putting it to the capitalist system. You are still part of the capitalist system but you have found a way for others to pay for the government system. And it is the uber capitalists like Romney who have found a way not to pay their fair share of taxes. I do not appreciate paying taxes while others skate.

Yeah, well some of us are compelled to not aid and abet a system that uses our tax dollars to conduct wars not of our choice, buy drones that bomb wedding parties, bail out a corrupt TBTF financial sector while refusing to enforce the law. Meanwhile, FEMA sends the little people collection notices to recover (with interest) the few thousand dollars they needed after Katrina. Sometimes we're forced to throw out the babies with the bath water.

Trying to keep my contributions as local as possible.

People who don't "want want or need to work" likely aren't consuming, producing, or paying taxes at the level needed for the type of economic recovery most are hoping for. It basically means that Kotlikoff's "Coming Generational Storm" is upon us. While it may not matter why the job participation rate is falling, it certainly matters to those who need to work, and the economy as a whole. As we were discussing earlier this week, getting one's self to "the discressionary side", whatever the reason, doesn't bode well for a growth-based economy.

An analogy would be when the number of people who hunt and fish began to decline in the 1980s, wildlife management programs, university research grants, etc. went into decline, since virtually all of these programs were funded by hunting/fishing license fees. Spending on retail goods in that sector dropped off significantly, wildlife populations in some areas exploded as the "participation rate" declined...

This time it's the whole economy, with much deeper knock-on effects.

Well . . . hopefully there is a flip-side to this . . . if older people are retiring hopefully that creates new job openings for younger people who need jobs.

We'd likely see a drop in the labor participation rate anyway, just because of basic demographics. The oldest baby boomers are turning 67 this year - full retirement age for social security. The fat bulge of the baby boom is hitting age 55 now, the minimum retirement age for many pension plans.

The thing is, that's not what's happening:


(Look at the second chart.)

The participation rate for over-55s is going up. It's everyone else's that's going down.

The participation rate for over-55s is going up.

Yes, but it's still much lower than the under-55 rate, meaning that the Baby Boomers who are now 60 are working at a much lower rate than they were ten years ago when they were 50. Since there's many more of them than the group they're replacing, and not many more in the group replacing them, the participation rate goes down, even if the participation rate for each age category goes up.

For example:

- age 50: 100 people, 80% participation
- age 60: 50 people, 20% participation
- Total: 60% participation (90/150)

- age 50: 100 people, 85% participation
- age 60: 100 people, 25% participation
- Total: 55% participation (110/200)

The drop in the labour force participation rate is in large part due to demographics, namely Baby Boomers aging out of their prime working years. You can prove that to yourself by running exactly the above analysis on the BLS employment-by-age-group numbers.

Thanks for the clear and concrete explanation.

The labor participation rate is likely to keep dropping until the fat bulge of the baby boom is past age 67 - at least. It's just basic demographics.

People have warned about this for years. The boomers have an outsized effect no matter where they are in life, just because of their sheer numbers. Some worried that the stock market would crash because of all the boomers pulling their money out of the stock market when they hit retirement. Others have feared that consumption would collapse as the boomers aged, since old people don't spend as much money.

My guess is it won't be that dramatic. The baby boom is spread out over almost 20 years, and they won't all retire and put their money in CDs overnight. The effects will be subtle - like that dropping labor participation rate.

Thanks for that example. I sit corrected.

But the other point still remains: Labor force participation is still dropping for the prime working years, 25 to 54. Adjusting your example:

- age 50: 100 people, 80% participation
- age 60: 50 people, 20% participation
- Total: 90/150 = 60% participation

- age 50: 112 people, 75% participation (population growth 1.1% p.a.)
- age 60: 100 people, 25% participation
- Total: 109/212 people = 51% participation.

Yes, the biggest effect on participation comes from ageing. I see that now.

But the chart in my link above definitely shows a drop in the participation of prime-working-age people.

To me that's the real problem. It's the 25- to 54-year-olds who borrow to invest in houses and furniture and cars, and have kids with all their attendant economic stimulation -- except that now, fewer of that age group have jobs, and most of those in work have static or shrinking incomes. That puts a damper on investment.

(In the past people got paid more as they got older. Nowadays, not so much. Except for the top 20%. They're still OK.)

We'd likely see a drop in the labor participation rate anyway, just because of basic demographics.

Here's another way baby boomers are opting out of the labor market... expect these numbers to keep growing.

Between 1999 and 2010, suicides in the 35-to-64 age group increased 28.4%, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Suicides among people aged 50 to 59 years old specifically almost doubled during that time period.

Nobody has data yet on why suicides are increasing in this age group, says Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology. "But the working assumption is that it's related to the economic recession."

The 2007 recession affected middle-aged males more than any other demographic, he says. Job loss and other financial difficulties can lead to depression.

Emphasis mine, Well, Duh!

The good news is due to 193,000 jobs being estimated into existence by the CES Net Birth/Death Model. Otherwise there would have been a net loss of jobs for the month. All the stops are being pulled out to keep the equity markets pumped up as long as possible.

Another issue is that the average work time for the week has dropped slightly from 34.6 to 34.4 h per week in April.
(See the press release). This translates to -0.5% in work time for the total number of jobs in USA. There is 135 million jobs.
The drop in average work time per week is thus about -675'000 jobs, with some uncertainty. Compare that to the increase of 165'000 in number presented in the news!
I believe it aint recovering at all...

The good news is due to 193,000 jobs being estimated into existence by the CES Net Birth/Death Model. Otherwise there would have been a net loss of jobs for the month. All the stops are being pulled out to keep the equity markets pumped up as long as possible.

And, according to your own link, 314K jobs were estimated out of existence in January. According to your reasoning, the government must have been deliberately trying to hold down the equity markets in January (or February, since that's when the number came out). So your point is ...?

Ah is that why oil was up?

I was thinking it was headed back down due to increased stocks in the USA and increased production in Russia.

But I guess the thinking is that if more people have jobs then more people will drive. Of course, do more people really have jobs or did more people just leave the workforce?

if more people have jobs then more people will drive.

Depends. The growth industries are Leisure and Hospitality, a.k.a. "Do you want fries with that?", and Health, specifically carers and aides for elderly, demented, and otherwise disabled people. Do those jobs pay enough to run cars? Barely.

Do more people really have jobs? Yes. But badly paid, temporary and casual jobs.

Did more people just leave the workforce? Yes. Growth in jobs isn't keeping pace with population growth.

"Do those jobs pay enough to run cars? Barely."

See this comment I wrote the other day on that topic. Although a lot of speculation on my part I think it's in the neighborhood.


Approximately 25% of Americans make $10/hour or less, so lets look at the top of that range:
For someone making around $10/hour this equates to about $70/day after taxes, after the expenses mentioned above this leaves about $15/day post expenses. For 12,000mi/year = 2 gal/working day. This brings the net $0 income gallon of gasoline to $7.50/gal.

So, with the assumption of average mileage of 12,000mi/year and an average fuel economy of 23mpg, approximately 25% of Americans would have zero net income for discretionary spending if gasoline reached $7.50/gal. Since at minimum wage they already have 0 miles available and zero discretionary income, this means that every bit would already be biting heavily into those in that range and eating away at core non-discretionary expenses (housing, food, etc).

The much longer and stream-of-consciousness is available at the link. The range that a person's income can purchase on a yearly basis rather surprised me. I think advertisers should catch on to the Miles-Per-Dollar concept of fuel economy.

F-150 V8 (13mpg): 3.7 miles per Dollar (at $3.50/gallon)
F-150 (17mpg): 4.9 miles per Dollar (at $3.50/gallon)
Prius III (50mpg): 14.3 miles per Dollar (at $3.50/gallon)
Leaf (270 Wh/mi): 30.9 miles per Dollar (at $0.12 per kWh)

If you're looking at buying a truck and see that it's going to cost $1 to go 3.7 miles..."3.7 miles per dollar" and then you look at something like the Leaf "30.9 miles per dollar" you might have second thoughts.

We recently converted our Prius II to plug-in. Thus far, on our first 1,000 miles, we are getting 22 miles per dollar. (I like the metric!) That includes one longish trip of about 500 miles, when of course the extra battery capacity doesn't help as much. On our local driving, we are more up on par with the Leaf.

People in casualised fast-food, retail, and cleaning jobs don't qualify for loans to buy Priuses. You're looking at cars in the $500 - $2,000 range. Some of them run more on oil than on gas.

^^Thanks for the link back to your comment, Substrate. Your expenses are a bit low. A lot of people in this situation have dependents. And you omitted power and telecommunications costs. OTOH, they don't have health insurance...or medical and dental care, or sick leave.

And a lot of them don't even have cars. It's the other expenses, not the gas, that's prohibitive.

To be clear, I wasn't suggesting that those folks could afford a Prius. I was responding to substrate's metric, and pointing out there is another option, which has worked for us. And for the record, I have made less than $5k/yr since walking away from a corporate job prior to the '08 crash. I held that job for 3 yrs, earning mid-high 30's. Felt like they were throwing money at me, as I have spent a life of frugality, not unlike MMM from a few days back. Some choices lead to expense streams. Others, like solar applications, lead to the reduction or elimination of expenses. I always choose the later, and recommend the same to others who will listen.

What system did you use?



Looks like a pretty good system - how are you liking it?

People with an income below average probably will not drive the annual average distance of 12,000 miles/year. The distance they travel will be more modest because they will not be able to afford replacing the vehicle. The large travel distance is for people who buy houses in suburbia or rural areas and travel to urban areas to work. These people are not renting at $500 / month.

Not entirely true.

Rural America tends to be poor and drive long distances. I'm sure you've seen the stats people post here periodically: it's the "red states" that benefit most from programs like welfare and food stamps. The stereotypical welfare recipient is someone living in an urban ghetto, but in reality, they are more likely to live in the suburbs or a rural area than a city.

Substrate was referring to someone paying $500 / month rent which suggests he is renting a room in an urban house. The people around here who drive 100 mile/day round trips to work have occupations such as nurse and policeman and are paying mortgages.

Or renting a home in a trailer park.

Actually, $500 a month can still get you a decent apartment in many areas.

12,000 miles a year does not equal 100 mile commutes. Remember, most driving in the U.S. is for reasons other than work.

"Very bullish numbers out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment down to 7.5 percent."

Only in honkey-tonk badonk-a-donk land is 165,000 (non-farm) "bullish." Unless the number has been skewed heavily by the participation rate, the break-even level is somewhere around 150,000. So those numbers mean that we've just stopping digging the hole for the moment - the hole is still deep.

"Bullish" numbers, at least in old-timey thinking (like 4 years ago) would have been in the 300,000+. A long-age of expectations?

I know of 8 people here who've opted for early retirement - their positions will not be back-filled. There's a friend of the family whose employer decided to close up shop this year - she's of retirement age and decided to retire rather than look for work elsewhere. Last year was the first year I've ever heard of (non-intern) part-time employees being used here on a long term basis to fill the role of full-time employees (they don't want to have to give them benefits). It was simply unconscionable...and here it is now as accepted. A Brave New World.

Why don't people who need jobs just go to where the jobs are? ND and TX don't have 7.5% unemployment. Oilfields are likely to have work for the next decade at least.

Often, because they're tied to their houses.

re: JP Morgan manipulating markets

"In the energy market investigation, the enforcement staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, intends to recommend that the agency pursue an action against JPMorgan over its trading in California and Michigan electric markets."

It will be interesting to see if the 'Powers' decide to go after these banksters as strongly as they did British Columbia, who did not manipulate markets, but shrewdly managed their power supplies for greatest returns when they were asked (begged) to supply power to California.

We'll have to wait and see on this one.


The regulatory agencies don't appear to be able to levy a big enough fine to make a difference to companies like JPM. A fine of several hundred million sounds big to most people, but when a company can eat a 6 billion dollar trading loss without so much as a hick-up, any fine less than tens of billions is "the cost of doing business".

"Government investigators have found that JPMorgan Chase devised “manipulative schemes” "

I am afraid that that sentence does NOT qualify as news.

Here's another example of climate change at work:

Largest of Northern Calif. Fires Continues to Grow

A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather.
The fire was driven by gusty Santa Ana winds that usually run from fall into March then are replaced by foggy mornings as an onshore flow of cool air comes in, Kaplan said.

"This is a very, very strange weather pattern for this time of year," he said. Instead of the onshore flow heading eastwards from the coast, cold storms in Colorado and further east have been pushing westward, and that air heats up and dries out as it roll downs through the California mountains, he said.

Welcome to the new normal world...

E. Swanson

I was surprised at how little snow there is now in California. From the article:

"In addition, the California Department of Water Resources found the water content in the snowpack was just 17 percent of normal. The snowmelt is a vital water source for the state."

Checking the snow pack conditions, the Southern Sierra has only 9% of normal.

Much has already melted. Some some of the water is already in the streams. But the total water is quite low, after being hugely above normal at new years.

I found the below chart very interesting. It explains why the quoted "World Oil Supply" has been growing while Crude + Condensate has had only a slight uptick. World C+C is in fact in decline if you subtract the gain from US shale oil.

World C+C, minus USA was 69,864,000 bp/d in January 2011 and In January 2013 it stood at 68,338,000 bp/d. That is a decline of 1,526,000 bp/d. But all C+C peaked, so far, in April 2012 at 76,054,000 bpd and in January, the last EIA update, had World C+C at 75,343,000 barrels per day, a decline since the peak of 711,000 barrels per day.

The chart below is just what the EIA calls "Total Oil Supply" minus their Crude+Condensate data. Their Total Oil Supply includes palm oil, ethanol, and any other biofuels, but mostly the difference is NGLs. The data is in kb/d with the last data point as January 2013.

Other Liquids photo OtherLiquids_zps987dea06.jpg

The oscillations in the last three years is likely seasonal biofuels. The peaks are all in August and the valleys are January, February or March.


Excellent chart, Ron. Since NGLs come from NG wells, is there a way to estimate the size of NGL "reserves" and how much can be produced from a given NG well? In other words, is there any method we can use to determine how much NGL can be produced in a given year, when NGL production will peak, when it will start declining, etc.

Also, the increase appears to be linear: 4 mbpd in 12 years or approximately 350,000 bpd per year. Assuming this increase stays the same conventional C+C will have to decline by more than 350,000 bpd in order for Total Liquid Fuel production to start declining.

I know of no way to even estimate how much natural gas or NGLs is left to be recovered. I don't think any nation publishes their "proven natural gas reserves". Also not all gas is non associated gas. A lot comes up with the oil from oil wells.

But I only track Crude+Condensate, or true liquid fuels. Peak oil is when crude+condensate peaks in my opinion. But others count everything, not just NGLs but biodiesel as well.

The average increase is actually 361,000 barrels per year. But I don't think that will continue. Production of these "other liquids" January 2013 is actually down by 101,000 barrels per day from January 2012. I think the gap between what the EIA calls "Total Oil Supply" and C+C will continue to widen but not at the pace of 361 kb/d that it has averaged for the last 12 years.

Ron P.


Do you not count "other liquids" because they have low ERoEI? What happens to most NGLs? Do they get converted to gasoline and diesel?

I should have said "I don't track other liquids". Of course they count if that is what you are counting. But it is Crude+Condensate that gets converted into gasoline and diesel. No, you cannot convert NGLs to gasoline or diesel. NGLs are mostly Ethane and Propane. The rest are Butane and Isobutane. Pentanes, are also called NGLs but they are more commonly called Condensate and are counted as oil. Search: Natural Gas Liquids: The Basic

There is a "Gas to Liquids" technology which can turn NGLs to gasoline or diesel, but it is extremely expensive and has yet to really get off the ground. Shell has a gas to liquids plant in Qatar called "The Peral Project". Search: Could Turning Natural Gas Into Liquids Be the Next Big Thing?

Through the third quarter of last year, Pearl had produced nearly 6 tons of natural gas liquids and other products using the GTL process. Initially, the economics of the facility appeared highly attractive because of high oil prices and the fact that Qatar, like the U.S., possesses cheap and plentiful natural gas.

But the project has encountered several unanticipated hurdles along the way, the most serious of which has been a massive escalation in costs. Shell initially estimated Pearl to cost around $5 billion. But toward the completion of the facility, that estimate soared to $19 billion. In addition, the plant has been plagued with a host of maintenance issues, which have kept it from operating at full capacity.

19 billion and counting and they have produced 6 tons of liquids from gas. That comes to 3,167,000,000 per ton. So no, turning NGLs to gasoline or diesel is not a promising trend.

When Crude+Condensate peaks that will be peak oil.

Ron P.

Thanks a lot. You explained it well (as always).

It is not clear if Qatar trying to convert NG into diesel/gasoline or whether they trying to convert NG into ethane/propane/butane. If it is the latter, why do they bother since NGLs cannot be converted into gasoline/diesel? Is it because NGLs are cheaper to transport than LNG (requires special ships, super cooling, etc)?

They are trying to trying to turn Natural Gas into heavier products. That could include turning methane into ethane but that would not gain them much. The expense would likely be far greater than any BTU advantage they would get from the ethane, or heavier but still gas products like propane.

Basically they want to turn natural gas into diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. But the process could also turn NGLs into liquid fuel like gasoline and diesel. All they are trying to do is make the polymer strings longer. Ethane is two carbon atoms, propane three and butane four and so on. The longer they get the strings the more valuable the fuel is, up to a point of course. Once you get to 16, which is diesel fuel, you don't gain anything, profit wise, by making them longer. Gasoline is 8 carbon atoms long.

The GTL process entails converting natural gas to higher-value petroleum distillates, including diesel, naphtha, and lubricant base oils. Central to the process is a chemical reaction known as the Fischer-Tropsch process, which uses a catalyst to synthesize carbon monoxide and hydrogen into synthetic fuels...

Pearl, located in the industrial city of Ras Laffan, is the result of a joint effort by Qatar Petroleum and Shell. The facility was designed to produce various products via the GTL process, including diesel, naphtha, kerosene, and lubricant oils, as well as condensates and liquefied petroleum gas.

Ron P.

Since I believe that LNG tends to trade at par to oil on a BTU basis, it's almost certainly more profitable, and more energy efficient, to ship the natural gas as LNG to overseas markets.

Compressed natural gas, or LNG, could then be used for transportation in modified vehicles, especially fleet vehicles.

Thanks Ron and westexas. It is amazing how much one can learn here.

This little handy chart might help as well

Aproximate Heating Value of Common Fuels


LNG to vehicles, replaces the chemical step, with having to have modified vehicles. And the disadvantage of lower storage density. I suspect (depending on the economics of the process obviously) that GTL, which doesn't require vehicular modifications will probably beat it on cost and convenience. GTL was originally advertised as a way to capture stranded NG, just turn it into liquid fuel, which is easier to ship. Clearly LNG to GTL should be a no go however.

Some say GTL throws away 30-40% of the thermal energy of the gas. Recall the Robert Rapier article on a visit to a GTL plant in Malaysia. The Fischer Tropsch reaction needs partial combustion to generate the heat and pressure needed to force small gas molecules to combine into longer chain liquids.

In 20 years we'll think it is crazy to waste gas in GTL. The suggestion I've made before is bifuel vehicles that run on affordable compressed natural gas with a spare tank of expensive liquid fuel. These vehicles already exist such as the Opel Zafira CNG Tourer. No link for fear of moderation. Such cars run on CNG with a reserve tank of petrol. That way you can get along interstate highways even if small towns don't have CNG pumps.

Ties in neatly with the interview with Steven Kopits from last drumbeat.

Am I missing something here? I was listening to NPR a show called to the point with Warren Olny and then another show called here and now...both were heavily saying that we have so much oil in this country that prices will drop and Saudi Arabia will have to lower their prices etc and that we will look back at peak oil as a big joke....could they be right? The Baakan is saying this week that there is double the amount of oil that they though previously and if this is not true can we get some people Like Gail or Rockman on these programs to argue otherwise. I was so angry I called KCRW to ask why they don't get other opionions...but I have been hearing this story so much in the "liberal media" that I don't know if I am in "Brave New World" or "Don Quixote"....I know that it is important for you experts to report here but you are preaching to the choir--If there really is a peak oil threat I think you need to be "out there" spreading the message or debating these so called experts toe to toe...Like Charles C. Mann of The Atlantic

Um. Did they say anything about all that carbon cooking the planet if we dig it up?

Or, that solar is getting cheaper by the minute? Or that wind was the biggest source of new electricity here (us) last year?

My suggestion _again. Don't bother with those people, just go do it yourself

Well yes they did mention coal but they said in the future we won't even need coal anymore because we have so much natural gas...My point is that these stories give people the green light to consume more and more resources without regard to depletion...I install solar as an electrician and I can't tell you how many times people have told me solar is dead because there is so much natural gas in the United States you can't convince them otherwise because of these news stories.

and we won't need nat gas anymore because we will be forced to jack up the cost of it because of global warming disasters coming soon to your locality.

and because solar really will be cheaper. I have a lot of solar, cost me less than my friends spent on their pickups, and now gives me lots of TOTALLY FREE electricity, more than I can use any sunny day, why bother with nat gas, frack mess, etc? solar is wave of the future for sure.

And lasts a LOT longer than those pickups.

"Am I missing something here? [snip] The Baakan is saying this week that there is double the amount of oil that they thought previously..."


Those are some pretty graphs by DCoyne already predicting the 7Gbbl, you'll see that the Bakken will likely top out below 1 mbd and peak around 2017 with a vicious decline rate.

Rune Likvern with the "Red Queen" has been on top of Bakken all along.

The USGS estimates are for technically recoverable oil without any regard for economics. The economically extractable oil will likely be less. The USGS estimate is considerably lower than the estimated ultimate recovery of 23 billion barrels that some of the drilling companies are (were?) stating. The USGS estimates 4.4 billion barrels are technically recoverable with a 95% chance from Bakken and Three Forks.

Some of you may be interested in listening to this show on KCRW - Warren Onley's topic: Global Warming in a World of Endless Oil, Gas, and Coal.

Be prepared to shout at the speakers!

Sorry George I should have put my comment after yours....and yes I was yelling at the speakers...but then I got thinking what if they are right and I have been wearing blinders.....I need to re access. For me it is one thing to hear this on Faux News but to hear it everywhere....

Even Counting Votes too Scientific for North Carolina

North Carolina? You remember: the state against science regarding sea level rise? The state with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head who doubts climate change science and believes oil is a renewable resource? The state that tried to appoint a head of early childhood education who believed the Fukushima earthquake might have been caused by ultrasonic waves from North Korea? That North Carolina?


Okay, hmm … you’re Republican legislator Mike Hager, you hate the renewables program, and your bill has just been defeated by an indisputable margin of five votes. What to do … what to do? Easy. You reintroduce the bill. And when it next comes up in committee, this time in the state senate? You have a voice vote — and have your finance committee chair, Republican Bill Rabon, refuse to count the actual votes. In a voice vote so close that both sides claim they would have won if the votes had been counted, Rabon declares that the bill has passed and runs off.

Sounds like they've gotten some valuable tips from the right-wingers in Michigan.

Seriously, we no longer even feel the need to pretend in this country anymore.

Think about in life, if you are trying to fight against one guy, well, you have a chance. But add just two people against you, and it's one against three and it doesn't matter how strong or resourceful you are, if you don't have help you will be beaten. If you have a gun you might stand a chance, but then if your opponents have a gun, well you're finished just like the original scenario.

It's like that in America now. We don't have a chance, we are outmanned and outgunned. On the opposing side is the combined wealth of the fossil fuel industry, the banks, the big corporations and 237 years of cultural belief in endless growth and prosperity. On our side is some internet blogs and some graphs about energy and a message that nobody wants to hear.

So we are going to have to pick our battles. Americans in the know, if they are going to stay, should simply hunker down and prepare, even if that, in your mind, puts you in bad company. Because the survivalists and preppers, no matter how crazy in their ideas, are basically saner than the mainstream in America. Which is crazier...that the world is run by a few elite people who are conspiring to take away all of our wealth and rights, or that we can have infinite growth in world energy and prosperity? Do you think a couple of young kids from central Asia enjoying the good life became so pissed that they decided to plant some random bombs during a marathon? Or do you think the vast security apparatus of the country has the motive and means to initiate false flags to further clamp down on the populace?

Is it really so hard to believe?

There is this idea that "giving up" is just another form of propaganda by the banks and corporations. I don't believe this. My gut tells me that they don't want you to give up...that they want you to keep on driving to your job and putting on a smile and working hard and paying your debts and spending all your money and buying stocks and bonds and voting and keeping the system going as long as possible, so they can extract the most they can from you.

If I'm correct, then giving up all hope is in fact the only hope we have left, because then we can begin to build, however tentatively, something from the ashes.

Guess I was spoiled by my time on the legislative staff here in Colorado. The committee rules here allow any member to demand a roll call vote, which must be honored. On the floor there will be at least one point where any member can demand a roll call. There are various tricks leadership can pull to kill a bill -- mostly delaying it until the session ends, or routing it through a committee that will kill it -- but so long as someone opposes the bill, there's no way to force it through without a roll call at each step of the process.


The drifter, the house painter, and the 82-year-old nun prepare to be nailed to the cross of DOE and its contractors -- trial to begin next week. This is their story, along with some interesting Oak Ridge history, well written at WaPo.

Lightning west to east (apologies to James Douglass) here is a little bit about the previous ploughshares action that also went into the kill zone at the Naval base at Kitsap Washington back in 2009


Fr. Steve Kelley, SJ is still probably doing "diesel therapy" enroute to wherever BOP (bureau of prisons) sends him for parole violation.

Sr. Anne Montgomery RSCJ is now immune for parole violations, presente.


... manipulation seems to be a chronic disease of the California wholesale electricity market — and of those in other regions. For example, FERC has accused Deutsche Bank's energy trading arm of bogus bidding in the California market and threatened it with a $1.5-million penalty. Deutsche Bank has until Oct. 19 to respond to the allegations.

JPMorgan, which doesn't own a power plant in California but has trading rights to the output of 10 Southern California generating stations, keeps FERC and the California ISO on their toes all by itself. In 2011, days after ISO closed the original loophole it says Morgan exploited, the firm found another one, according to ISO filings. That chicanery cost ratepayers $5.3 million over just five days, ISO said.

Just last month, JPMorgan was alleged to have exploited yet two more loopholes in the trading rules, which may have garnered the firm nearly $10 million in possibly excessive payments. The California ISO is currently withholding $3.7 million from the firm, apparently to cover its losses. FERC hasn't launched an investigation of that trading, and Morgan has said it has done nothing wrong.

(my emphasis)
- JPMorgan case shows why energy trading schemes are chronic problem
LATimes Nov 16 2012


... ISO refused our request to put that in plain English. With the assistance of McCullough and other experts, however, we've unwound what JPMorgan is actually accused of doing in the ISO and FERC filings. Be prepared: It's no less ugly for being diabolically simple.

The alleged scheme involves two related wholesale electricity markets maintained by the ISO. There's the day-ahead market, in which power plant owners place bids to provide power for the California electricity grid in the future; and the real-time market, an auction market through which ISO buys electricity for immediate distribution to homes and businesses.

To give plant owners an incentive to participate in these auctions, ISO guarantees to cover their costs for starting up or running their plants at a minimal level, even if their bids aren't accepted. This is known as "bid cost recovery." ISO rules allow bidders to claim payments of up to twice their real costs.

In simplest terms, JPMorgan submitted bids in the day-ahead market that were so low the firm was certain to be accepted onto ISO's roster of potential electricity suppliers — in fact, they were negative bids, essentially offering to pay ISO to take their electricity. The bidding is overseen by software, not human beings, and the automated program isn't smart enough to distinguish a real bid from a potentially fake one. (Implausible as it may seem, there can be legitimate reasons for a power generator to submit a negative bid, but they don't apply to JPMorgan.) ISO believes that JPMorgan never intended to make that sale, but the beauty of its low bids was that they made it eligible to collect bid cost recovery payments.

The next step was for JPMorgan to make sure that ISO didn't actually buy its electricity, presumably because the profit margin from the bid cost recovery claim was greater than from actually selling energy. So in the real-time market, it priced its electricity so high that ISO wouldn't buy it.

The bottom line, the ISO says, is that JPMorgan's traders never intended to sell it electricity via these bids. The scheme, it says, seems to have been designed purely to capture a bid cost recovery payment the bank didn't deserve, at a rate that was inflated anyway.

Manipulation of California energy market gives consumers a jolt
– LA Times July 18 2012

In more recent news:

JPMorgan Buys Stake in Eight Geothermal Power Plants from Ormat –RenewableEnergyWorld Jan 2013

JPMorgan Chase & Co. paid about $35.7 million for an interest in eight Ormat Technologies Inc. geothermal power plants in California and Nevada.

JPMorgan plans to pay Ormat an additional $8.7 million for 25 percent of the value of production tax credits generated by the plants through the end of 2016, the Reno, Nevada-based developer said today in a statement.

The so-called tax equity investment gives JPMorgan production tax credits and accelerated depreciation benefits that Ormat isn’t able to use, because “we generate more deductions for tax purposes than we are currently able to utilize,” Ormat Chief Executive Officer Dita Bronicki said in the statement. The production tax credit for geothermal is 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour and applies to the first 10 years of a plant’s operation.

The eight plants are part of Ormat’s Ormesa, Heber and Mammoth complexes in California and its Steamboat and Brady complexes in Nevada, Bronicki said today in an e-mail.

JPMorgan invested $24.9 million in four of Ormat’s Nevada facilities in a similar transaction in February 2011.

In the light of a recent previous Drumbeat discussion that included Neanderthals, sexual congress between human groups, and speculation about the origin of HIV/AIDS, this link tells the remarkable story of Simian viruses crossing species boundaries. Meat handling seems the origin for HIV types in humans but some mysteries remain, of course. Lessons abound from this account of a 'colonial' world, the modern global 'reach' of tourism and of staggering cases of dangerous 'scientific' intervention. (edited now for Typos)


Then the topic of gas prices came up. This girl was hoping that we would not see further increases in the price of gasoline this summer, since her budget was already stretched tight.

I expressed some appropriate fake sympathy, but emboldened by my secret life as Mr. Money Mustache, I decided to at least see how this unsuspecting person would respond to a taste of Mustachian advice.

This particular lady recently bought a V8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, and she happens to work at a company that is exactly 0.5 miles from our street. Yet she drives to work – every single day.

He does make a mistake...he says this Jeep gets "12mpg" in the city - it most certainly does not...it should be getting much less. I would guess 5 mpg based on the distance she drives it - it never has a chance to warm up.

The bicycle as a thinkin' machine...

A bike is actually an automatic life balancing machine, passively creating harmony in your life better than even the bossiest life coach could hope to do. You’re automatically forced every day to venture just a tiny bit out of your Comfort and Wussiness Zone. Suddenly you are blessed with the opportunity to use your mind and actually strategize just a bit each time you venture out… “How will I dress for the weather?”… “what will I be carrying with me?”.. “what food and drink will I require for this journey?”.

With the tiny daily overhead of this planning, you become a more thoughtful person in general. The Edge of the Planner starts to creep into the other areas of your life: “I heard this new TV show is really good. Maybe I’ll relax and watch a few episodes… WAIT.. on second thought, maybe I’ll look at my to-do list and use this time for something ELSE! Aha.. I see I was supposed to look into re-financing my mortgage. I hate making those calls, but I’m going to do it. I’m a PLANNER now, no longer a passive observer of life.”

Except for having to battle traffic, fear getting run over, and loud-a**ed redneck trucks with no mufflers...I tend to find myself in a zen state while ride and contemplate things.

Well, at least she only lives .5 miles from work. Actually, that is not far enough to even bother with a bike and can be walked at a leisurely pace of 15 minutes, max.

"that is not far enough to even bother with a bike"

Amusingly true. I used to walk that far from my parking spot (because I'm a cheapskate and would rather walk 1/2 mile than pay $35/month for a parking spot).

Well if she is only 0.5 miles from work then she really isn't going to be burning much gasoline.

But yeah, why does she need the vehicle at all for work.

"Well if she is only 0.5 miles from work then she really isn't going to be burning much gasoline."

As I said - she doesn't drive far enough for the engine to heat up, so it's probably getting around 5 mpg.

.5 miles * 2 way trip * 5 days/week * 4 weeks/month = 20 miles

20mi/(5mi/gal) = 4 gal...4gal * $3.50/gal = $14/month = $168/year

Which is $168/yr just right there. For someone on the edge that's a fortune. As seems to be the general case with people like this, they tend to be multi-trippers...out for this, out for that - many times a day for small things rather than planning for one single trip. So it's likely that she drives other places a few times a day and that would add up quickly as well.

But yeah, why does she need the vehicle at all for work.

So she isn't too tired to go to the gym?

Re: The business cycle
2 years of recession, followed by 4-6 years of expansion is what I learned to be the normal business cycle in the USA.
If recession was 08-09, then expansion is '10 - '13('15).

So, we are getting to the end of the expansion, and a recession will likely happen in the next 24 months. Could this be the next "step down" in world consumption. And thus, energy and commodity prices will go down.