DrumBeat: October 19, 2006

Happy days are here again: Demand for gasoline surges as prices take a dive

WASHINGTON — Americans are celebrating plunging gasoline prices by hitting the roads.

After barely rising during the summer months, gasoline demand rose swiftly in September, the American Petroleum Institute said Wednesday.

Deliveries of gasoline to U.S. service stations, a proxy for demand, rose more than 4% in September from the same month a year ago. That number was boosted by the comparison with September 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita interrupted deliveries.

But even excluding the hurricane effects, gas demand likely was up approximately 2% in September, API economist Ron Planting says. That's about triple the average increase over the prior six months and the biggest gain since August 2005.

"Lower prices are encouraging people to get back out there and drive," says Stephen Brown, director of energy economics at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Southeast Asia's Clean Air Conundrum

Burning of Indonesian forests is causing widespread pollution. But it's done to grow crops for environment-friendly -- and lucrative -- biofuels.

Statoil suspends production at second offshore platform

OSLO (AFP) - Norway's leading oil company Statoil has said it has halted operations at a second platform off the Norwegian coast due to adverse weather conditions in the region, resulting in a 140,000-barrel per day loss in production.

OPEC agrees one million barrell per day output cut

DOHA (AFP) - OPEC has agreed an oil output cut of one million barrels a day but has yet to decide whether it will be based on official quotas or actual production, Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez has said.

Chavez's fate may rest in OPEC's hands: Venezuelan president desperately seeks production cut to drive up crude oil prices.

China plays catch-up in energy game

HONG KONG - The recent announcement that China has begun filling the tanks at the first of four planned sites for strategic oil reserves comes as a reminder that the game is on for the world's energy resources. But China - a latecomer to the contest - has started at a considerable disadvantage.

Regime Change in Timor-Leste, the ousting of Mari Alkatiri

Alkatiri left so as to prevent a genuine crisis and massive loss of life. In the process, East Timor became the most recent casualty of Peak Oil geopolitics. The UN, as Alkatiri might have hoped it would, has provided ample proof.

Motley Fool reviews Twilight in the Desert

LUKOIL to Step Up on Crude

Russia’s oil giant, LUKOIL has presented development strategy that extends till 2016 and specifies the double growth in crude and gas equivalent. Of interest is that the gas output will account for a material portion of increase. The attitude of analysts is rather skeptical. They say exactly the gas section of strategy hasn’t been properly elaborated and LUKOIL chiefs just attempt to encourage capitalization growth before the management sells its stake in the company.

More nations clamor for nuclear energy

Vattenfall Proposes Global 100-Year Climate Stabilization Framework

Speaking in Stockholm today at “Pathways to Sustainable European Energy Systems,” the inaugural project conference of the Alliance for Global Sustainability, Vattenfall CEO Lars Josefsson proposed a worldwide, adaptive carbon reduction burden-sharing framework to be implemented over the next 100 years, as part of a path towards a low carbon emitting society.

Saudi Arabia, others invest in refining projects; Power sector reform in Nigeria, the real issues

Georgia questions delayed Azerbaijan gas

Azerbaijan will not be able to supply Georgia this year with the additional gas supplies that the Georgian government is seeking in order to forestall the possibility of an energy crisis. Some experts in Baku believe that Russia’s ongoing diplomatic row with Georgia is influencing Azerbaijani policy decisions.

In the grip of nuclear power

An Oil Habit America Cannot Break: Americans don't want to undertake the painful steps necessary to fix our energy woes.

West could see gas, oil boom over 20 years

How close is runaway climate change?

Germany Puts Global Warming Prevention Plan in Gear

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned of the unexpectedly fast pace of global warming and said the country needs to follow a unified plan to protect itself from increasing environment change.

Climate change blamed for legionnaires' disease surge

Making fire from ice: a new fuel for the 21st century

Beneath our seas, reserves of frozen methane hold more energy than all other fossil fuels put together. But can we get at them without causing environmental meltdown?

Renewable energy movers, shakers meet to plan future

As it has in the past, the conference — now in its fifth year — will include talk on wind power projects in Vermont and strategies to slow global warming as the world approaches "peak oil," that point from which petroleum production begins to drop.
Back on Oct. 9 TOD:NYC had a thread on the viability of the plug-in hybrid vehicle that included a lot of optimistic comments about future improvements to batteries that could store electric energy to power these cars. What I took from this thread was that IF enough advances are made, perhaps these cars could allow us to continue running suburbia after Peak Oil.

But then a few days later (Oct. 16 drumbeat), Leanan linked to a news article about troubles the electricity grid is having now, before the mass use of plug-in hybrids. Does anybody have any comments about the impact that plug-in hybrids would have on the electricity grid? I know you'd have to recharge your car at night - during off-peak hours. But still, this seems like a huge burden to put on an already struggling grid. It also seems like it would require the burning of a lot more coal.

I was asking about this the other day.  I pointed out that even if you could plug them all in at night, you're lokoing at running the entire grid at near capacity nearly 24/7. I'm not expert on the grid, but many around here have much more info.  

From what I've gathered, the sorry state of our grid system is already stretched and needs improvements.  Personally, I am beginning to think deregulation was the worst thing for power, but I'm sure many here will argue.  Also you pointed out the other great point.  The only way for this to work for the medium/long term is burning the hell out of all the coal.  No thank you.

Honestly, I love how you guys spin the context of what was discussed!!  For a quick 'refresher' course to end this BS before it gets a chance to start:  plugging in every car and truck in the US thats a EV or HEV would take only 57 GW of energy...out of the 1000 we currently have for 'peak' production, and the 450 we use on average throughout the day.  If we couldnt increase the carrying capacity of our electric grid by 57 GW, then we really are doomed :P

And as was already posted today, most of the EVs will be recharged via onsite renewable energy systems such as wind or Solar.  The battery technology is ALREADY here.  Were not talking about a few key breakthroughs needed in 5 years time.  We only need the investment into the battery production to make them cost effective with gas long term.  But honestly, you can find doom even in the brightest of circumstances :P

Nice to know that the energy situation in the world is "the brightest of circumstances".  Me happy now!
"most of the EVs will be recharged via onsite renewable energy systems such as wind or Solar."

Why should anybody believe this? As the discussions have shown, most people will plug them in during the night, into the 220 socket in their garages. What sort of PV cells would operate then?

This is like claiming that we can switch from gas clothes dryers to electric, and make the assumption that it will be supplied by roof PV panels.

I live in Arizona, where the sun shines best, and they're slapping up new homes as fast as they can haul in lumber and concrete. And not a one of them has PV panels on the roof. The only PV panels or wind generators belong to a few scattered homesteaders, like myself.  

The vast majority of our electricity in S Arizona comes from coal, strip mined in Southern Utah and on the Indian reservations.

So lets' convert all the cars and trucks in Tucson to run on coal from the Red Rock country of southern Utah. COOL!  

Running EVs off of coal burning power plants is still cleaner than most cars currently are, and it also solves the potential woes of a shortage of liquid fuels.  It seems to me that you and the other pessimists are trying to keep moving the goal posts in order to prove we are doomed.  Figure out a way that we can run cars when faced with a shortage of oil and all of a sudden we're talking about pollution and how no one has solar panels.  

How is anyone supposed to win this sort of debate when the conditions keep being changed?  Obviously if everyone had PV on their roofs we would be in very good shape and thus wouldn't be talking about how to go about solving our problems.  The fact that we have problems implies that solutions have not already been adequately implemented.  

Also since everyone is worried about the grid.  With more PV we could lower demand during the day, and have higher demand during the night.  Using EVs and PHEVs along with solar PV would balance power grid usage out by a great deal.  Hopefully one day power demanded from power plants would actually be highest at night, rather than during the day as it is now.  

Hopefully one day power demanded from power plants would actually be highest at night, rather than during the day as it is now

See winter in many locations, especially winter weekend nights.

6-7/8 PM is often a secondary or primary peak.  And I expect most PHEV & EV owners to come home, plug in and fix dinner (overriding or ignoring any time of day feature, missing on the Telsa BTW).  Thereby adding to the Peak & grid stress.

Time will, of course, tell.  But the current SUV owners are not likely to become model citizens when they go EV IMHO.

Best Hopes,


Keep in mind that most EV users WONT plug in every night in order to preserve and extend the lifetime of their batteries, unless recharging obstacles are overcome and we can recharge 10,000 times or more with no loss :P I would be willing to wager most EVs would be plugged in once every 4-5 days on average.
You don't understand. We are doomed by definition. If it's not this then it will be the other - they can always think of something. Any resistance is meaningless - all we need is to sit and wait for the sky to fall on us...
plugging in every car and truck in the US thats a EV or HEV

He's talking about if we replace all U.S. cars and trucks with electric vehicles.  Not just the ones that exist now.

Acutally, that is a typo.  Im talking about converting all 220 million automobiles currently driven in the US.  The energy equivlant from a powerplant production standpoint is 57 GW.  

I'm intrigued.  How did you come up with the energy equivalent of 57GW?  Does the 220 Million figure includes all cars and trucks including tractor trailers?

So less energy is required to run the fleet of automobiles traveling throughout the country than is required to run our air conditioning? Not that I don't believe you, but I'm, well, a bit stunned by that figure. I have zero figures for this, but it just seems that driving a 2-ton vehicle should use more energy than running an a/c unit. No?
I wouldn't be so sure about that.  A/C is a hellaciously wasteful powerhog.  Cars have a few things going for them, first of all the fact that they roll on wheels.  A lot of people have surely rode a bike before at some time.  I'm sure you know from riding a bike that oftentimes you don't even need to peddle.  If you are going down even a slight incline you can pick up a lot of speed and just roll with no effort.  

The truth is this applies to cars too, and actually you can roll quite fast on even a very slight incline as a result of the car's weight.  I think many people are under the assumption that without the engine pushing constantly the car would just stop, but that is not true (if you have a manual it's easy to push the clutch in, it can be impressive sometimes just how far you can roll with no power input whatsoever).  

Once a car is actually rolling it doesn't necessarily require that much power to keep it in motion, especially with low rolling resistance tires.  On the other hand with AC we have the issue that people are trying to keep their houses well below the ambient outdoor temperatures.  When you're trying to keep your house 20-25 degrees below the ambient outdoor temperature you are just going to waste tons and tons of energy.  It's kind of like running uphill, you are spending a lot of energy fighting the laws of nature.  An AC will be running basically nonstop during the day, whereas on average a car will not be in motion more than a small fraction of the day.  

Just to clarify, I am not saying that Hrothgar is necessarily correct.  I'm just pointing out how it might not be that surprising if vehicle power usage was not that much different from AC power usage.  
Let's look at it another way.

The USA currently uses about 320 million gallons of gasoline in a day. A gallon of gasoline yields around 36.6 KWH, so the heat energy in the gasoline used in one day in the USA is about 12,000 GWH.

According to a Wikipedia article, electric vehicles are about 4 times as energy efficient as gasoline vehicles. If all the cars burning all that gasoline were converted to elctric drive, the efficiency gain would require 3,000 GWH per day.  If all vehicles were recharged in a 12-hour off period, this would require an average capacity of 250 GW, or about 25% of the nominal grid capacity.

How do you get 57 GW?

It's easy. 73.5% of the replacement fuel will be enhanced with pixie dust.
I keep forgetting about that.  I hope it's abiotic pixie dust...
Good point.  We'll need a steady supply forever to make this work.
  1.  Current battery recharging and discharging technology is well, technologically backwards.  When you recharge a battery, only a fraction of the energy used actually gets stored in the battery.  The rest is lost to heat.  Dont believe me?  Go and recharge your cell phone and then pick it up and feel how 'warm' the back side of it is, where the battery is located.  Also, take a look at most laptop batteries and how hot they get.  The heat produced by the computer doesnt cause all the heat to be localized in one location...

  2.  The Tesla itself takes only 3 hours to go from completely drained to a full charge.  Far less then the 12 hour time period you expect the plugged in cars to drain energy from the grid.

  3.  The new batteries such as the one Toshiba developed take a fraction of the time current batteries take to recharge.  These new batteries have the potential to be ~80% recharged in ONE MINUTE.  Think about that for a second before you dismiss PEVs outright.

  4.  The ICE you are probably currently driving around only has an efficiency of less then 18%.  That means for the 134,000 btu of energy stored in each gallon of gasoline, your only using at most 24,120  btus to move your car.  The rest is lost to heat.  To prove this to yourself, go and drive about 150 miles, then park and have a seat on your supposedly nice and cool engine cover.

  5.  Electric cars are VASTLY more efficent and using energy then ICEs are.  And the ironic thing about EVs, the more powerful the electric motor is, the more efficient it becomes.  Thats why vehicles like the Tesla have a 185 hp electric motor when many people point out that you really only need about 50hp to get the job done.  It's all about efficiency.

  6.  Obviously, any massive EV scale up would require the usage of 'smart' recharging appliances.  These appliances would be able to determine weather or not the energy grid is 'spikeing' due to excessive power drainage, or if energy usage is low and it is safe to recharge the batteries.

  7.  The Tesla and the upcoming 4 door sedan are stated to have a range of about 250 miles per charge.  The nationwide AVERAGE miles per day per vehicle is about 30 miles.  That means that on average, you will drive around 30 miles a day to do all your shopping, getting to and from work and any other trips you make.  That means you technically only need to recharge ~once every 8 days.  Lets just place that figure on a nice 1 day a week recharge period for the AVERAGE driver.


Now what does this all mean?  It wont take 257 GHw of electricity every night to recharge the vehicle, it will take ~37 ghw a night, asuming INTELLIGENT recharging with intelligent applications by the consumers.  Comments?

Current battery recharging and discharging technology is well, technologically backwards.  When you recharge a battery, only a fraction of the energy used actually gets stored in the battery.  The rest is lost to heat.  Dont believe me?  Go and recharge your cell phone and then pick it up and feel how 'warm' the back side of it is, where the battery is located.  Also, take a look at most laptop batteries and how hot they get.  The heat produced by the computer doesnt cause all the heat to be localized in one location...

So that means you will need more energy in total than just the amount expended in motion.  That doesn't help your case.

The Tesla itself takes only 3 hours to go from completely drained to a full charge.  Far less then the 12 hour time period you expect the plugged in cars to drain energy from the grid.

Charging time doesn't matter.  What matters is the amount of energy drawn from the grid.  Shorter time = higher current.  The energy requirement remains the same.

The new batteries such as the one Toshiba developed take a fraction of the time current batteries take to recharge.  These new batteries have the potential to be ~80% recharged in ONE MINUTE.  Think about that for a second before you dismiss PEVs outright.

Again, charge time isn't the issue. A shorter charge time may make it easier for power companies to regulate the smart chargers and prevent grid overload, but it doesn't change the amount of power they will need to provide.

The ICE you are probably currently driving around only has an efficiency of less then 18%.  That means for the 134,000 btu of energy stored in each gallon of gasoline, your only using at most 24,120  btus to move your car.  The rest is lost to heat.  To prove this to yourself, go and drive about 150 miles, then park and have a seat on your supposedly nice and cool engine cover.

As I said above, the efficiency advantage of electrics over fossil fuelled ICE is well known.  The advantage is given as 4:1 by this Wikipedia article.  That was factored into my analysis above.

Obviously, any massive EV scale up would require the usage of 'smart' recharging appliances.  These appliances would be able to determine weather or not the energy grid is 'spikeing' due to excessive power drainage, or if energy usage is low and it is safe to recharge the batteries.

This is a given for preventing grid overload.  It doesn't address the total amount of energy needed.

The Tesla and the upcoming 4 door sedan are stated to have a range of about 250 miles per charge.  The nationwide AVERAGE miles per day per vehicle is about 30 miles.  That means that on average, you will drive around 30 miles a day to do all your shopping, getting to and from work and any other trips you make.  That means you technically only need to recharge ~once every 8 days.  Lets just place that figure on a nice 1 day a week recharge period for the AVERAGE driver.

If you maintain the passenger-miles currently driven and just change the energy source, you wind up with the numbers I calculated above.  Here you are moving the goalposts by assuming a change in driving habits.

My analysis stands - 250 GW supplied for 12 hours per day is required to replace the transportation capability provided by gasoline engines today.  You can cut that energy requirement by changing people's driving habits, but to get it to 57 GW (I assume 37 was a typo?) you'd have to cut the passenger miles by three quarters, or quadruple the efficiency of elctric vehicles or some combination of both.

I still don't see how you got 57 GW.

You dont NEED more power to do the same charging.  Keep in mind that you have to have an inverter to convert electricity from 110 volts to 10 or 12 volts: this causes a LOT of energy to be 'lost' in the process.  Secondly, current battery diodes arent capable of higher voltage charging, which is what makes the new Toshiba Battery so unique.

These new batteries can take a higher voltage of current running th rough them, meaning less energy is lost in conversion.  You dont actually use more energy to charge the battery in a shorter period of time, you just charge them more efficiently for less power overall.

That does not address the issue.
        I suspect a lot of what you are saying is incorrect. For a start inverters don't convert AC to DC it's the other way around. Transformer rectifiers convert AC to DC. You state new batteries can take higher voltages of current. This is in correct, current is measured in AMPS not voltage and diodes control the direction of current not the amount going through them. I haven't time to look at the grid calculations but if the above is any indication it won't add up
So...because of an accidental typo, my entire arguement must be false? :P
So, the main point is that the current US coal + nuclear base loaded electrical generation system has suffient capacity to recharge the US fleet of gasoline cars, and probably enough to also charge the diesel burning ones, too.  Cause for celebration, no?  Maybe we can then go back to exporting oil.
Next, just replace the coal plants with 500 new nukes, and we can meet kyoto.

All we need is to persuade japan/korea/china to ship us 300 million new cars and 500 nukes in exchange for our highly desirable paper...  We live on too high a plane to make this stuff ourselves.

Hello Hothgor,

I think you are forgeting how current-limited the grid is at the local neighborhood level.  Even with intelligent appliances installed everywhere: fast, high amperage battery recharge cycles would still be limited by wiring safety limits.   Therefore recharge cycles will take much longer than the theoretical ideal, unless we rewire every neighborhood [not likely].  Therefore, it will just take a certain # of fat-cat PHEVs to shutoff the heat, A/C, and refrigerators for the rest of their neighbors during the overnight battery recharge cycle.  They won't be happy campers.

I am no engineer, but battery powered bicycles recharging everywhere would probably not overwhelm the current wiring limits of a neighborhood because the amp-draw is so low.  No need for "smart appliances" either--which most people will not be able to afford postPeak anyhow.

But I could be wrong as this is speculation with no supporting facts.  I just wanted to point out this potential roadblock to the dream of providing PHEVs for everyone.  You might have better facts.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

If the fast charge time he notes ends up being more than vaporware, it doesn't mean that it NEEDS to be charged that fast.  It just opens up the possibility that it could - and that the retail market segment currently occupied by gas stations could retrofit with flow batteries, a major transmission line, and recharging terminals.
Hello Squalish,

Thxs for responding.  Good possibility that your reply might be the best cost-effective response vs rewiring neighborhoods.   If the potential energy savings are so high by PHEVs--how come all the delivery trucks are not converting over?--I don't understand why the trucking industry is not spear-heading this conversion now: a massive fleet re-design if the cost savings are so obvious.  Do you have an answer?

I am in favor of everything TODer AlanfromBigEasy suggests, but we will still need local delivery vehicles.  It seems to me that the international emphasis should be on truck-PHEVs, and not personal PHEVs.  Toyota, GMC, MACK, Peterbilt, etc, should be building RIGHT NOW big fleets of Truck-Prius, instead of personal cars IMO, and finalizing the designs for battery powered PHEV trucks.  I will gladly pedal a bicycle everywhere as a tradeoff to having food delivered to my local supermarket.

Long haul PHEV truckers could have truck stops where the battery packs are quickly switched out by forklifts to get them back on the road soon. I greatly worry that the trucking industry is not Peakoil Aware--at the very least we should already have PHEV fire-trucks and ambulances.

Attention: TODer Gail the Actuary--I think the insurance industry and other corporations would be frantic for PHEV firetrucks, if they are looking ahead--Do you have any idea why not?  Thxs for any reply.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


As always great insight.  I know that someone on this board months ago chimed in on this in relation to Volvo's plans. I can't remember what was said, so I won't lead you astray.  This was coming from a guy working on the lines.  I did a search and found that Magnus Redin is in Sweden, and he is mentioning something to do with Fords investment in their hybrids, but I don't remember if this is similar.


Hello Tate,

Thxs for responding.  Yeah, truckers are not worried about fast acceleration like a TESLA sports car owner.  But the high torque levels of an electric motor is IDEAL when you are hauling 80,000 lbs of cement, watermelon, lumber, beer, or whatever, in a big rig.  Regenerative braking could be a big safety PLUS when these monsters have a long, steep downgrade ahead of them too.  Much better than the current system of having your air-brakes fail, then the trucker hoping and praying that somehow he can control the rig until he can hit the offroad gravel safety runaway at the bottom of the hill.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

We've got a section of Interstate 44 near our six flags that goes down a STEEP hill.  When I had my stick shift I used to take the clutch completely out and coast down it at over 90Mph (had a sporty car).  It's STEEP and there are accidents around that section all the time and it's especially bad when there is traffic.  In the last couple of years there have been like 15 deaths including an entire family.  The more I learn about EV, the more I tend to like it.
It's not quite as easy as it sounds to recover all that energy, especially for long hills.  I reference you the always entertaining, always informative Dan.
It's pretty easy to recover most of that energy, as the previous poster indicated, just turn your engine off and put your car in neutral.  You don't even need to store anything.  Granted you're not actually saving the energy, but by not using energy on the way down in a way you are displacing some not-used gasoline.  :)

I use this trick all the time when going downhill.  In a manual you can even turn the car off completely and just bump start the engine when you get to the bottom.  Not sure I would try it at 90 MPH, of course...  

With an electric motor and battery you could store some of the excess (going 90 MPH is not really all that safe most of the time).  Even though you get only a small fraction of the energy through regenerative braking, it's still "free" energy.  

Think about the vehicle market for a moment.  You have automobile companies that are selling vehicles for near cost.  These same companies have a mechanical shop at every dealership nationwide.  The average ROI for a car doesnt just stop at the purchasing price: they EXPECT the cars to have problems and require that a mechanic be there to fix them.

So where has that led us too?  We have mechanic shops all across the companies and at every dealership: the parts that they used are sold by the same car manufacturers you got the car from in the first place.  The price to fix the cars helps increase the car companies margins.  And what about the oil servicing industy.  On the trip home from work today, I passed 5 different oil changing businesses.  Where do the parts and material they use come from?

When you look at the big picture, you can see why the auto industry has been against the EV potential.  Why would any sane business produce a car that has less then half the current movable parts and is less prone to breaking down over its lifetime?  There's no money in a super efficient EV when your entire business model has been based on the assumption that the cars will utilize the high margin secondary markets!

Hello Hothgor,

Thxs for responding.  Truckers feel ripped off if the big-rig they purchased doesn't last a million miles with a reasonable amount of repairs/rebuilds.  They want reliability and max uptime to earn income; there is not a lot more to be gained in further aerodynamic improvements when hauling large, bulky loads.  If truck PHEVs have lower lifetime operating costs, improved safety and uptime improvements, and vastly lower emissions over present day diesel rigs--some manufacturer will get rich by being the first to market these vehicles.

Truckers are log-book limited by Fed law on how many hours they can drive in a day.  I think tagteam truckers would gladly welcome one driver working the quiet electric drive while the other got silent, peaceful shuteye in the cabin bunk.  Cooling the drivers' cab is nothing compared to the A/C required to keep a forty foot long trailer of ice cream cold.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I doubt PHEVs are that practical for big rigs for precisely the reason you mentioned: tag team drivers.  What is the point of a truck that can be plugged in to recharge if it's going to be running the vast majority of the time?  If there is not significant downtime then the plug-in aspect is not that helpful.  

As for normal hybrid trucks, I think the reality is the way trucks are driven (primarily on the freeway at more or less constan speeds) limits the impact a hybrid drive can have on efficiency.  A gas or diesel engine is most efficient when operating at constant speeds like on the freeway.  

You can see this born out in the fuel economy figures of regular cars and hybrids.  Much of the increase in hybrid gas mileage is under city driving conditions.  On the freeway hybrids get better fuel economy, but most of that is a result of them having a smaller engine (since the electric motor is used to help accelerate when necessary).  In reality the electric motor on a hybrid is rarely in operation on the freeway, and a car with a similar engine minus the hybrid components would do just about as well in terms of FEC.  The non-hybrid car would not accelerate as well or go uphill as well without the electric assist, however.  

A normal hybrid truck would still have some advantage over a non-hybrid, but it would not be that huge under freeway driving conditions.  Going back to PHEV trucks, a better option is just to use electrified rail, not that PHEV trucks might not some day be the norm.  

Agree about electrified rail :-)

Postal & UPS delivery vehicles might be good candidates for hybrid technology (hydraulic storage rather than battery perhaps).

Best Hopes,


I think the answer as to why the insurance industry and other corporation are not frantic for PHEV firetrucks is in the second part of your sentence - they are not looking ahead.

Other issues - One might think that emergency vehicles will be given first dibs on whatever fuel is available. Also, emergency vehicles are driven relatively little, so I would expect would last a long time. A disproportionately large share of their fossil fuel use would go into their manufacture, rather than their day to day use.

and we're still back to converting our fleet from running on oil to running on coal.
No no, you missed the part where we convert our coal plants to nukes.
Actually, I expect most PEVs and EVs to recharged via onsite solar systems that charge up over a given period of time, then are discharged into the car batteries.  The amount of energy burdeon on the grid will be minimalized this way.  And I know, I know, solar systems arent widespread currently.  I expect the solar recharging systems to be included in the cost of the vehicle.  The tesla currently has one for sale with it for a cost of about $5,000.  Prices have declined significantly over the years, and will continue to do so in the future.  In 10 years time, I expect a number of vehicles on the road that are EVs will outnumber even hybrids :P
Here are some nice big picture charts for the USA:


I don't understand the units, but the chart from this site that I posted in my office shows "distributed electricity" at 11.9 and "transportation" at 21.2. Transportation would include airplanes, trucks, etc. But anyway that should get the scales set in the ballpark.


Great link, Jim.

This site, from US DOE, shows the breakdown of all energy flows in the US, in quads, or quadrillion btus of energy.

It shows that total electrical power generation is 38 quads, used 19 quads residentical/commercial, and 19 quads industrial.

transport uses 26.5 quads
(chemicals, etc., use another 6 quads of petrol).

It also shows electricity generation results in lossesof 69% waste energy, and transport fuel at 80% lost energy. (Not that great a difference. Electricity is 31% efficient, petrol 20% efficient...)

If coal is 31% efficient at being turned into electricity, and then, to be usable for EVs, has to go through transmission lines and transformers, and then accept losses becoming battery power, I wonder whether it really IS more efficent than gasoline?

Also, since (realistically), any increase in electrical generation will be coming from coal, that would entail almost a doubling of coal excavation! (20 quads of coal now, plus perhaps another 16 quads to power our EV Hummers).

Alright, I'll debunk this little rant :P

1 gallon of gas = 130.88 MJ stored energy
130.88 mj ~ 36.35 kw/h equivlant, or about what you stated.

Now here is where it gets tricky.  The average consumer car only has a 12% efficiency from gasoline.  That means for every gallon of gas, only 12% of the stored energy content is used to propell the vehicle.  The most efficient ICE, a diesel, gets about 18.5% efficiency fyi.

36.35 kw/h x .12 = 4.362 kw/h

That is to say that the same energy in electrical power to propell the car is about 4.362 kw/h!  Now, you have stated that wiki shows that EV engines are 4x more efficient.

4.362 x .25 = 1.0905 kw/h

Does it take 1.0905 kw/h to power an EV to go the same distance a comparable ICE goes?

210,000,000 x 1.0905 kw/h = 229005000 kw/h
229005000 kw/h =~ 229.005 GW/h
229.005 GW/h / 12 hours = 19.08375 GW/h needed!

Even if you use the same efficiency of 4.362 kw/h, thats still only 76.335 GW/h over the course of one night, ASUMING EVERYONE PLUGS IN THEIR CAR AND RECHARGES OVER THE ENTIRE NIGHT!!!  In practice, it will be FAR LESS on the average night.

I bet you didnt think I would do my homework :P

Note: this is based on the assumption that the average user would still drive about 30 miles a day, and are in far more efficient vehicles, not behemoths like an SUV.  Most small cars do get 30 mpg :P
What is that 210,000,000 number?

You're making it too hard.  If an EV is on average 4 times as efficient as an ICE, then you take the energy content in all the gasoline used by ICEs, divide by 4 and you have the electrical energy you need to replace it.  Your 0.12 factor is included in that efficiency ratio.

If yoyu want to replace the existing daily usage of 400 million gallons of gasoline, you need to come up with the electrical energy equivalent of 100 million (10^8) gallons.  That's about 36.5*10^8 KWH, or 3.65 billion KWH, which of course is 3,650 GWH per day.

It doesn't matter how long you take to recharge your cars, the system overall needs to deliver 3,650 GWH of energy to vehicles in the USA every day to maintain the same transportation capacity.

Byu the way, here's where that 4:1 ratio comes from, in the Wikipedia article on electric cars:

Production and conversion BEVs typically use 0.3 to 0.5 kilowatt-hours per mile (0.2-0.3 kWh/km). [7] [8] Nearly half of this power consumption is due to inefficiencies in charging the batteries. The US fleet average of 23 miles per gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 1.58 kilowatt-hours per mile and the 70 MPG Honda Insight gets 0.52 kWh/mi (assuming 36.4 kWh per US gallon of gasoline), so battery electric vehicles are relatively energy efficient.

1.58/0.4 is right about 4:1.  As the article imples, better charging technology will boost that somewhat, but that's what we have right now.

There are currently aprox 210 million vehicles on the road at present.  Thats where the 210 million comes through.  Cmon, you gotta give me the procs on showing you how your math was wrong :P
Oh dear.

First off, you're double counting the inefficiency of the ICE, first by using it to extract your 4.362 KWH, then by dividing that in turn by 4.  The 0.12 factoir is included in the 4:1 ratio.

Next, you're calculating the amount of electrical energy it would take to travel the same distance as using only a single gallon of gas.

You need to factor in the number of miles travelled. And not double count the ICE inefficiency.

Thats where your math is wrong.  You cant take the TOTAL energy content of a gallon of gas and base your calculations off of that.  You have to base it off how much of that energy is actually USED in moving a vehicle.  The average consumer car utilizes only 12 PERCENT of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline.

At a minimum, the required energy is 12% of what you posted it would be.

The 12% is included in the 4:1 efficiency ratio.  Read the excerpt from Wikipedia carefully.
The key to your misunderstanding is that while an ICE is only 12% efficient, an EV is only 50% efficient (as it says in the Wikipedia article).  12% is 1/8, but due to the 50% inefficiency of the EV you have to multiply that by two to get the right ratio between the two.  Voila - 1/4.

And think about "using all the energy in a gallon of gas" for a second.  Of course you use all the heat energy in a gallon of gas - 12% gets to the road, the rest goes out the tailpipe as wast heat.  You still have to count that 7/8 as "used".  In the same way you need to count the 50% charging loss in the EV as energy used.

No.  That heat energy is WASTED.  Its not used to make the car travel another mile, or to run your AC and radio.  Its lost energy that can never be utilzied by the car system.  You HAVE to basae your energy analysist based on the energy actually USED by a vehicle to opperate, not the energy content of the fuel.

This is why ICE's are so ridiculous in principle!  We have been driven to this point by oil interest and parts manufacturers.  Imagine how different the world would be today if we stuck with the EV instead of the ICE...peak oil would be a completel non-problem.

OK, in that case let's take the ICE out of the equation entirely and see where we get.  The only reference we'll make to gasoline is to figure out the number of vehicle miles that are travelled in the USA.

Currently the USA vehicle fleet travels about 9.2 billion miles per day.  This is derived from the amount of gasoline used (400 million gallons) times the average fleet fuel efficiency (23 mpg).

According to Wikipedia an EV uses about 0.3 to 0.5 KWH per mile.  Let's take the lower limit of the range.

9 billion times 0.3 KWH is 2.8 billion KWH.  Again we come out with a requirement for about 3 GWH of electricity every day.

Would you accept that this is an accurate calculation?

Sorry, I hit the post button instead of preview.

The 3 GWH above is, of course, 2,800 GWH - virtually identical as the 3,000 GWH per day I derived in my initial calculation.

FWIW to you guys I second Hothgor's analysis.

The mistake made by the other poster (gliderguider) was assuming that the entire energy in gasoline was being used to propel the vehicle. Not true: Only 12% is used (18.5% for a very efficient diesel).

You need to read the Wikipedia excerpt carefully as well.
I'm not sure if you are accounting for the inefficiencies of electrical production.

According to Lawrence Livermore Labs, out of 38.2 quads that go into the electrical power sector, only 11.9 quads become distributed electricity. That implies a 31% efficiency rate BEFORE THE ELECTRICITY GOES DOWN THE POWER LINE.

Losses due to transmission and transformers, as well as lost in battery conversion, come later.

How does this impact your calculations?

It doesn't impact my calculations at all.  Were talking about efficiencies on the wheel, and the energy it takes to make a car go the same distance as an EV verses the standard ICE.  Gildis still doesn't seem to understand that the best ICE only utilizes 18.5% of the energy content of a fossil fuel.

We currently produce 450 GW/h in power in the US.  We have a maximum production of about 1 TW/h, or 1000 GW/h at peak times.  Its barely enough to keep up with current demand, but other posters have already demonstrated that this can be scaled up as supply is warranted.  I want you all to keep in mind that these figures being used are AFTER the 69% or so energy is lost in the creation of the electricity and subsequent transmission to our homes.

I can't stress this enough:  It takes far less electrical energy to move an EV then the POTENTIAL energy of gasoline used to power ICEs.  Massive amounts of energy are lost in ICEs in the form of heat, friction, and plain inefficiencies of providing wheel power to move the vehicle forward.  I also want to point out that as break recharging systems are improved upon, you can get back MOST of the energy you use to accelerate when you stop the car.  This potentially caps at ~75% energy used.

Remember, working EVs have been around for over 100 years.  GM had the EV-1 in the mid 90's that was a commercial success from the standpoint of a durable, long lasting, efficient EV.  The reason we haven't switched is due to the fact that current car companies base their entire business model on the assumption that your vehicle will BREAK DOWN, and have to be repaired in a manner that benefits them and no one else.

It's going to take a start up company to show the world how things can really be done.  What we lack is the political motivation to make it happen.

BTW: Futher proof of my KW/h analysist is show in the fact that it costs on average 1 to 2 cents per mile for the Tesla.  Even a 30 mpg car costs ~8 cents per mile at current gas prices!  Food for thought :P

I like EV's but I don't buy the argument that the reason they haven't taken off is because of some conspiracy of the parts and auto repair business. If you know anything about fixing relatively modern autos (last 10 to 15 years) you will realize most problems are not related to the IC engine. More likely they are suspension, electric gadgets, power steering, AC, rust etc. These components are still present on EV cars. The modern IC engine on the whole is very reliable and lasts generally up to 150,000 to 200,000 miles. On an EV with regenerative braking you will save on brake pads/disks. However, this is also true for current hybrids and some of the mild versions (Saturn etc.) I suspect that in a few years time a lot more cars will have mild hybrid capability once the cost comes done.

EV cars have a couple of weak spots i.e. batteries and power electronics. I know people who have blown inverters on EV cars after only 5 years which cost a fortune ($5000). Plus you will always have the possibility of cell failure espcially with high cell counts (its just the law of statistical averages).

I would take a $5000 replacement of an inverter over spending $2000 a year on gas 'and this will only go up apparently' over that same 5 year range.  I think you are missing the point:  ICEs have 2 to 3x more moving parts then an EV.  Less moving parts mean fewwer places for things to break, which means over all far less maintenance for the life time of the vehicle.

BTW, how much do you suspect you spend on oil replacement over the lifetime of the average vehicle?  My quickie math shows:

250,000 mile average usage
3,000 mile oil replacement
$20 cost

or about $1666.67 on just that alone.  An EV doesnt have any oil to replace!  Thats an entire year of gasoline right there.  Just take a step back and look at all the hidden costs associated with ICEs.

That's not a fair comparison because you still have to pay for electricity to charge the batteries. At the moment this is cheaper. However, I can guarantee if a large number of people were driving EV's the government will tax electricity to reclaim the tax they are loosing from gas.

The oil change is about the only thing I agree with. However, going off on a bit of tangent,  the current business of oil changes is a big scam anyway. You don't need to change it that often and there are ways to clean it and reuse it.

Don't get me wrong I like EV's and plug'ins but some supporters do the promotion of these no favours by making claims that cannot be supported.

No, I'm not accounting for that - I was starting my calculations where the energy enters the vehicle.

You have a very valid point.  Based on Lawrence Livermore numbers, the amount of generating capacity would need to triple in order to supply that much electricity to the vehicle.  So that means being able to generate around 9,000 GWH per day to power the cars.  If you recharge them all over 12 hours, you'll need 750 GW of new generating capapacity, or an addition of 75% to the existing capacity.

When you then factor in transmission & distribution losses of 20% you get a generation requirement of 900 GW.  That's getting pretty close to the size of the entire American electrical system.

>> 36.35 kw/h x .12 = 4.362 kw/h
>> That is to say that the same energy in electrical power
>> to propell the car is about 4.362 kw/h!  Now, you have
>> stated that wiki shows that EV engines are 4x more
>> efficient.
>> 4.362 x .25 = 1.0905 kw/h

This is where your math starts to go wrong.  That 4.36 kWh (no division there, btw) figure is the energy required to move the vehicle in terms of energy, not electric power.  A hypothetical gasoline engine that was 100% efficient would use that much energy, as would a hypothetical electric engine of 100% efficiency.  The amount of energy used by a real engine of any design will be higher--you can divide this raw energy number by the efficiency to get that figure.  Assuming 50% efficiency for an electric engine:

4.36 kWh / 0.50 = 8.72 kWh

Not 1 kWh.  Furthermore, this figure only covers the engine.  As you know, battery charging technology is inefficient, wasting more energy as heat than it puts in the battery.  And then there's generation and transmission loss to consider too, if we're talking about a society of declining total energy inputs.

Electric vehicles will have a place in the society of the future, but I don't think that place will be in the garages of hundreds of millions of people.

We already discussed and proved that an EV is 4x more efficient then an ICE, or that it uses 4x less energy to move an equivlant vehicle the same distance an ICE would.  Your trying to multiply the rate, which overinflates your calculations.

1.0905 kw/h still stands :P

No it does not stand.  By multiplying by .12 to begin with and then multiplying by .25 you are double counting the 12% efficiency of the ICE.  The .25 multiplication takes into account both the .12 efficiency of the ICE and the .50 efficiency of the EV.  You don't get to count the inefficiency twice.  Not and retain any credibility, anyway.

You run the risk of being labelled innumerate here.  I've clarified this point a number of times now, but you are resisting any reexamination of your methodology.  I assure you, the criticisms of your procedure are correct.

They are not warranted.  Only one person other then yourself has even attempted to 'correct' me on this issue!  The Tesla EV itself has a publicly stated $ per mile that is 1/4th that of current gasoline prices, or about 1 to 2 cents a mile.  If your argument is true, it should actually cost around 28-35 cents a mile.  This is NOT THE CASE!!

1.  The ICEs on average utilize 12% of the energy content of gasoline.

2.  EVs are 4x more efficient then ICEs.  In simple terms, this means that a gallon of gas could send a hummer 10 miles down the road, while the same energy used in an EV can send the car 40 miles down the road.  This means LOGICALLY that if you wanted to only go 10 miles down the road, you would need to use a quarter of the energy that is used in the ICE.

You cant magically multiply my calculations 16x just to make them fit your own.  Several people have already agreed with my calculations.  While I accept that you have not, you still have done nothing to support your own counter arguement.

You're almost there.  Both your first and second numbered statements are true., it's just that you can't apply them one on top of the other as you have been doing.

EVs are indeed 4 times as efficient as ICEs when you consider the total heat content of the energy fed into them.

As Wikipedia says, an EV uses 0.3 to 0.5 kwh per mile, while an ICE uses about 1.6 kwh.  In fact, they say: "The US fleet average of 23 miles per gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 1.58 kilowatt-hours per mile."

The article also says: "Electric vehicles typically cost between two and four cents per mile to operate, while gasoline-powered ICE vehicles currently cost about four to six times as much."

Let's investigate that.  At current average US electricity prices of $0.10/kwh and an energy requirement of .3 to .5 kwh per mile the cost comes out to $.03 to 0.05 per mile.  Close enough.

On the other side of the equation, ICE powered vehicles consume on average 1/23 of a gallon per mile. At current gas prices of $2.30/gallon that's about $0.10 per mile for fuel.  That's more than the EV, though not the 4-6x advantage claimed by the Wikipedia authors.  The energy cost of an average ICE is actually 2 to 3.3 times more than an EV.

Now, the extra maintenance required for an ICE (excluding tires) adds about $0.045 per mile.  An EV will be less than that, let's say half of that since it doesn't need engine oil.  So from this back of the envelope calculation an ICE has an operating cost of $0.145/mile, while an EV has a cost of $0.05 to $0.075 per mile. That's still a differential of 2 or 3 times.

So, I'm prepared to believe that an EV will require 1/2 to 1/3 the operating cost of an ICE (without factoring in tires, insurance, licensing, financing costs etc, all of which could be expected to be roughly similar).

So, if the USA now spends about 1 billion dollars per day on gasoline, I'd expect the energy for an an electric fleet of the same size doing the same amount of driving to cost 330 to 500 million dollars per day. That amount of money pays for 3.3 to 5.0 billion kwh of electricity at $0.10/kwh.  That's 3,300 to 5,000 Gwh. per day  The same or even a bit more than I've been claiming all along.

Generating 3,300 to 5000 Gwh of electricity over 12 hours (the off-peak cycle) requires the generation of 275 to 400 GW.  Just as I've been saying.  Givedn this, we will probably never replace all our gassers with electrics.  At some point transportation will become too expensive and driving habits will change instead.

Don't get me wrong, I think that EVs are useful vehicles.  They are significantly more efficient than ICE vehicles.  But their energy supply will be expensive to implement.  How expensive?  Let's say the EVs are at the high end of the efficiency range (0.3 Kwh/mile), and you can get 50% efficiency out of your generation and distribution system.  The required additional capacity is (275*2)=550 GW.  At a capital cost of $550,000 per megawatt this represents a capital cost in today's dollars of $300 billion.

Now this does not count transmission line upgrades or fleet replacement costs.  Here's where it gets expensive.  Let's ignore the transmission line upgrades.  Just changing the fleet (200 million vehicles at $20,000 per vehicle) adds 4 trillion dollars to the cost of the project.  Now, it's not quite that bad.  If you make the change over 20 years, you will spend 15 billion per year building new generating capacity, and 200 billion dollars per year replacing your fleet.  Toward the end of that period the excess fleet replacement cost will decline because the gassers would need replacing anyway.  Let's say the average fleet replacement cost is 135 billion per year, for an average total cost (fleet+generating capacity) of 150 billion dollars per year.

Is it doable?  Financially, yes.  The American GDP is 78 times that, and that rate of spending amounts to only about  94 additional days of extra debt per year at today's rate of $1.6 billion of new debt per day.  However, can you get the raw materials to build the plants, the fuel to power the plants, the raw materials to build the cars, and the willingness on the part of consumers and politicians to spend the money?  There lies the rub, and why IMO it is ridiculous to expect a electrification of more than 10% to 20% of the fleet over that 20 year time period.

Given what we now suspect about oil depletion rates, and given what I expect from human nature (i.e. we don't make changes until we can see the need staring us right in the face), the private automobile is likely to be a museum peice before EVs have penetrated the global market far enough to do us much good at all.

Alan Drake's promotion of electric rail, which has many times the efficiency of electric cars, makes much more sense from a global point of view.  In fact ity's the only transportation shift that makes any sense at all.  Electric cars are cool toys, but in the face of what's actually needed that's really all they are.

GliderGuider, you are over complicating the issue entirely, and your relying on information that can be posted and edited by any number of unscrupulous persons.

From the DoE:

1 gallon of gasoline is the equivalent of 130.88 MJ
130.88 MJ is the equivalent of 36.35 kw/h

The ICE's utilize 12% of this, or 4.362 kw/h
An EV requires only 1/4th this energy content to go the same distance, or 1.0905 kw/h

We use 320 million gallons of gasoline a day.
We are talking about replacing all 320 million gallons of gasoline with the equivalent electrical energy.

320,000,000 x 1.0905 = 348960000 kw/h
348960000 kw/h = 348.96 GW/h
348.96 GW/h / 12 hour recharge cycle at night = 29.08 GW/h

This replaces every gallon of gasoline we consume a day with its energy equivalent of electricity.  There is no other way to do these calculations!!  You can overcomplicate the issue with $ per mile basis on maintenance all you want, it doesn't matter.  The cold hard math is right there in front of you, you just have to acknowledge it!!  Don't delve into miles, delve into the replacement costs:

320,000,000 gallons a day = 7,619,047 barrels of oil a day.
7,619,047 x $59.5 'spot price currently' = $4,533,332,965 a day to support our gasoline habit.  Note that we currently import over 12 million barrels a day, so it's reasonable to simply assume the total amount of gasoline is coming from over seas.

348960000 kw/h x $0.10 kw/h = $34,896,000 spent to support our EV habit.  This means we would essentially spend 1/129th less to power EVs over ICEs a day.

Would you like to do an analysis of how much we would have to invest a day/month/year/decade into improving our grid to make powering EVs = current waste on ICEs?

My quickie math shows that over a 20 year time span, we would spend 33 TRILLION DOLLARS on gasoline if the price never changes from today, or roughly 3 YEARS GDP!!  Would the investment required be even 1/10th of that cost, no matter whose math you're using?

130.88 MJ is the equivalent of 36.35 kw/h

The ICE's utilize 12% of this, or 4.362 kw/h
An EV requires only 1/4th this energy content to go the same distance, or 1.0905 kw/h

This calculation is again incorrect.  You, sir, are innumerate.

How is this incorrect?  I'm going by your acknowledged statements to prove the point.  I'll make a check list for you.

  1.  You consider the DoE to be wrong about 1 gallon = 130.88 MJ
  2.  You consider the DoE to be wrong about 130.88 MJ = 36.35 kw/h
  3.  You consider the DoE to be wrong about the average efficiency of a US vehicle to utilize 12% of the energy content of gasoline.
  4.  You consider my calculation that 12% of 36.35 kw/h is 4.362 kw/h is incorrect.
  5.  You consider your own souces about an EV being 4x more efficient then ICE to be incorrect.
  6.  You dont believe that 400% efficiency means you need only 1/4th as much to do the same job.

Please, by all means, explain where my logical analysis is wrong!
I want to know which of the above 6 statements is true from your perspective.  And please elaborate without the pithy comments :P
Still waiting!!

BTW:  I just want to point out that since it seems your only contention is that I'm cutting my production from the gallon-energy equivlant, I wanted to show you exactly how much it would take just to replace the ACTUAL energy content the US fleet utilizes on average:

29.08 GW/h 'my estimate' x 4 'back to gasoline equivlant with no efficiency improvement = 116.32 GW/h addition to off peak capacity.

And thats just to drive around in EV's with the same efficiency as ICEs!!!

Patience, grasshopper.  I have a life beyone TOD, you know.

Let's look at this statement as the source of our disagreement:

3.  You consider the DoE to be wrong about the average efficiency of a US vehicle to utilize 12% of the energy content of gasoline.

The DOE is, of course, correct.  You, however, are using this statistic incorrectly.  It has absolutely no significance when one is trying to calulate how much energy it takes to replace the vehicle-miles driven .  This is what we are really trying to replace - vehicle-miles, not the energy (from whatever source) it takes to drive them.

Here's a thought experiment.  Assume that all the current vehicle-miles in the USA were being driven with diesel engines, which have a recognized 50% higher efficiency.  Would this change the amount of electricity it would take to replace them?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

I contend it would not change the amount of electricity needed, and indeed I demonstrated that in an earlier post.  In it I calculated the count of electricity needed to replace the 9 billion vehicle miles per day driven today.  If you want to drive 9 billion miles in electric vehicles with an electricity requirement of 0.3 Kwh per mile, you need to use 2.7 billion Kwh, or 2,700 Gwh per day.

For this result it doesn't matter what the original fuel was - it could have been gasoline, diesel, natural gas or wood - or what the efficiency was of the vehicle that consumed that fuel.  All that matters is how much energy it takes to drive 9 billion vehicle miles per day using the system under consideration.

Correction: "calculated the amount", not "calculated the count".
Didn't we go over this already? Asuming every EV had the exact same efficiency of todays cars, it would only take 116.32 GW/h over 12 hours, say 6 pm to 6 am. And keep in mind that these EV's will be inheritantly vastly more efficent then current vehicles: theyll be smaller and 'smarter' so to speak. You however are trying to go about this the wrong way: your replacing total miles driven instead of total gallons of gasoline used a day! Total miles driven includes everything: 18 wheelers, UPS delivery trucks etc. I'm talking only about joe schmoe gasoline user. Stop trying to compare apples to oranges!!
I'd caution you against basing any analysis on statements of faith like "keep in mind that these EV's will be inheritantly vastly more efficent then current vehicles".  Given the efficiency of today's vehicles and the laws of thermodynamics, I'd be careful about using qualifiers like "vastly".  Half the residual inefficiency of EVs appears to be in charging losses, but electric motors themselves are around 90% efficient, so from the standpoint of physics and electrodynamics there appear to be few gains remaining to be realized.

Smaller, lighter  vehicles will lead to greater gains in the area of both fleet cost and energy per mile, but given real-world load requirements, you won't see vehicles on average much smaller than a current sub-compact gasser, i.e. of the same approximate size as current vehicles.  I'd be willing to agree that you will see overall vehicle efficiency ultimately climb by 30% or so, but not much more than that.

That said, it looks like I've been overestimating the number of passenger car vehicle miles per year travelled in the USA.  According the the DOT (PDF warning) this was 1.6 trillion in 1994, so a crude extrapolation gives an estimate right around 2 trillion passenger car vehicle miles per year today.

At a current EV energy consumption of of 0.3 kwh per vehicle mile, it would take only 600,000 Gwh/year to replace the whole shebang.  Averaged over 8760 hours per year (24 hours pewr day), that's a bit under 70 GW of average capacity, or 140 GW if you provide the required power over 12 hours per day.  That 140 GW gives you the capacity to replace all the passenger car vehicle-miles driven today with EVs of today's efficiency. That won't happen any time soon, so 5% per year market penetration of EVs seems quite supportable.

If EV efficiency goes up by 30%, that would drop the generation requirement for full replacement to under 100 GW.  Not too bad at all.

I'm glad you agree!!

Now.  When do we get started with saving the planet?

You go ahead without me.  Despite the fact that this has been an interesting little investigation, I don't actually think we should be trying to save the planet.  Certainly not with more cars.
Hothgor, first not all of us here are doomers. Second, don't fool with us -most of us (myself included) are either practicing engineers or engineers by training. We're talking about all cars in the U.S. here, not the 1% or less that are currently hybrid or electric. That would draw a LOT more than 57 GW. Fourth, some grids are all ready so overloaded and/or operating near capacity with virtually no margins and could not accomodate those kinds of additions.

Finally, if you are going to keep posting here, please try to remain civil with others.

optimist -

I fully agree that even plugging in just a fraction of all cars in the US will require a LOT more than 57 GW of power.

A quick back-of-the-envelop calculation might be illustrative:

Rather than assume a certain number of cars and the amount of gasoline that will be replaced by electrical energy coming off the grid, I did the calculation on the simple basis that plug-ins become widespread enough to displace 1 million barrels per day of gasoline (a number I chose purely for convenience).

With gasoline having a heating value of roughly 120,000 BTU/gallon, or 5 million BTU/bbl, replacing a million bbl/day  of gasoline means replacing  5 x 10^12 BTU/day of gasoline energy with electrical energy.  

As one kilowatt-hour = 3,140 BTU, this translates into roughly 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours per day of energy.

If that energy is supplied evenly over a 24-hour period, then the amount of power required is about 6.6 x 10^7 kilowatts or 66 gigawatts.  However, if that energy is all supplied during a 12-hour off-peak period, the required power would have to double to about 132 gigawatts.

Keep in mind that the 132 gigawatts is for the displacement of just 1 million bbl/day of gasoline. Converting the entire US car fleet to plug-in hybrids would require much more than that.

It should be obvious that the impact of doing so on both our existing eletrical generating capacity plus our existing distribution grid would be hardly insignificant. It would require the investment of probably hundreds of billions of dollars in new generating capacity and upgrades to the grid.

GG up above gets at 250GW.  Between these I think it's safe to say it's at least DOUBLE what Hothgor claims.
The difference is that I factored in the 4:1 efficiency gain for electrics, and calculate what it would take to replace all gasoline (8 mbpd).  As you can see, if these factors are applied to joule's calulation we end up with 264 GW.

That's 5 times what the esteemed Mr. Hothgor is claiming.  I'd like to see him lay out his assumptions and calculations for us.

And that's not counting the energy embedded in the manufacturing (and marketing) of the batteries.  Suppose a $10,000 battery is  needed (after mass production reduces the current, much higher, price), and that that cost represents the embedded energy.  That's 5000 gallons of gas at today's price, or enough to drive an economical car 200,000 miles.  (Gasoline price will rise in the future, but then so will the price of energy for manufacturing batteries.)  Can you say "EROI"?

As Robert Newman says, "THERE IS NO WAY OUT".

Is the energy embedded in the battery represented by the $10,000 you pay for it, or by the increased electric bill you pay to recharge it?
Given how we pay for electricity and batteries these days, the embedded energy cost will be covered by the price of the battery.  Rolling the cost into the electricity price would disadvantage all direct (non-battery) electricity users.  the only way to get around it would be if the smart battery charger fed information back into the billing system to maintain differential pricing for battery and non-battery electrical use.

It's simpler to just price the batteries to cover both the direct cost of manufacture plus externalities like disposal.

How often are externalities paid for by the person who enjoys the benefits?  
Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?
I do most night before bed.  Nevermind that's not a dream.
Yes, O.K. But there will still be an increase in a household's electricity use once it switches to a plug-in EV's or hybrids. Leaving aside the $10,000 needed for the batteries, I suspect an economic model favoring plug-in EV's works only if the increment of increased electricity expenses is equal to or less than what a household would pay for an equivalent amount of gasoline.

Under plug-in EV's, the price one pays for mobility will be variable depending on the seasonality of electricity prices, right? Perhaps the summer driving season will be replaced by a summer no-driving season.

Just curious.  Does the battery become literally worthless after a certain number of cycles. Is there a residual value with respect to recycling when the battery becomes reusable. Can if be reprocessed?  

Also, excluding the battery, is is more expensive to build and maintain an EV vs an ICE, assuming mass production. If not, then one needs to offset those reduced costs vs the extra battery costs.

Looking at this issue the other way around, should be take the cost of the ICE and and all its uniquely associated components and then compute how many kwh we could buy for that price to show the superiority of the EV. Of course not.  

I got similar result too - some 250GW give or take.

But I still don't understand what is this fuss all about. People focus on that the electricity grid is "already overstretched" and again resort to that old "we are doomed" theme. As a technical person I am grossly frustrated by such an attitude. If something does not work - then fix it, damn it! Given the options between upgrading our electricity system (for how much? a hundred billion? that does not make even a half of the Iraqi war) and abandoning all our oil-dependant transportation altogether, what do you think we should choose for the next decades? Argh yes, I forgot we are doomed, better wait for the barbarians.

There's a difference between "we are doomed" and "the car is doomed."
There's still the question of where the energy to create electricity is going to come from. And the answer is coal. Mountain top removal.

Coal is going to have to dramatically increase just to cover the coming decline in NG, as well as natural demand -- let alone the 250 GW we've been noting above.

How many mountain tops can we remove before the brakes are put on this despicable practice? Or until we run out of mountains?

(I say this as someone who lives in an old copper mining town, with an abandoned open pit and mile long tailings, with a contaminated ground water plume that is held back by Phelps Dodge at great expense.

At least the copper can be recycled. The coal that comes from strip mining is only burned one. And that energy is usually wasted.)

You are forgetting nuclear, wind, solar, biomass...

Luckily for us and probably for our kids, the potential of ramping up coal in this country and worldwide is not that huge.


The technical issues have been pointed out and what it seems to boil down to many issues is money and time.  Both of which look to be in shorter supply than we would like.  Believe me I would love to fix all the crap, but does it really matter if we keep discussing it when those in charge are the ones who are failing to address this?  I think many of us are extremely frustrated and therefore revert to the worst possible position.  Considering if we are all wrong, the worst thing that happened is a little discourse.

tate - could I get you to consider that it is not the people themselves that are the problem. Sure, there are individuals who are not very compassionate, but the real problem is that most of these people you talk about who are in charge believe that what they are doing is good and right. We must move the discussion away from the people and to the ideas. Only by changing the way people think about things like profit, growth and private property will we be able to affect change. Blaming people, no matter how nefarious, will not address the real issues.
This is where we diverge then. I do not believe that the people in charge believe they are doing well and good.  I believe absolute power corrupts absolutely.  I respect your opinion but we won't agree on this.  
I'm not sure its our opinions that diverge, but our definitions and/or understanding of "good." Actually, I used the terms "good and right," you used "doing well and good." I  get the impression from your shift that you mean to measuring weather they believe they are good, kind, helpful, etc.. What I was trying to get at is that they believe they are doing the "correct" thing.

It's kind of like the conundrum of what to do when the local homeless wino askes you for a buck. The "kind" person gives the money and might encourage them to spend it on food, not wine. The "correct" person doesn't give the money because it fosters dependcy and instead gives them the business card of job bank.

Its not that the second person is bad, but that they have a different value system that leads them to a different conclusion. Same eith "the people in charge" they so strongly believe that the best way to run the world is for them to be powerful and wealthy, that they are unable to see the damage they do. This might be corruption, as you call it. And certainly someone new to this world would go through a series of value changes that we might call corruption. But to my eyes the problem is deeper (and worse), it is that the value systems that are prevalent in the world are what is corrupt, that are the problem.

Still think we are very far apart?

If you're still reading this - No, I don't think we're that far apart.  Let me ask this, do you think there is only one good value system to use?  If so what is it or what is the model you wish to use?
I think what also gets lost is that the current state of the electric grid is a business decision. A business does not build out infrastructure to accomodate some future desirable state of technology. They build out to be able to deliver their service for a profit. From the business perspective the grid is just where it should be, just barely able to handle the most demanding of days.

Now, we can discuss whether or not this is as it should be. But it is the issue of who builds and controls the grid and for what purpose that is the issue, not whether or not it is in the shape it could be.

(But I would ask one favor LevinK - could we give up the trite depiction of doomers).

Precisely! The business builds the grid on demand and therefore when the plug-in-hybrid or whatever demand appears the business will build it up to handle it. It is as simple as that.

Now methinks that the liberalisation of the market has lead to efficiency decisions that have made the grid quite vulnerable, but this is a whole other topic.

As for the "doomers" line - if you noticed I did not use this qualification. But I do think there is a lot of predetermined naysaying of anything positive that we, humans can come up to handle the post-oil transition.

Let me put it this way - if you hate suburbia, the consumerism or whatever, then it is better to fight those things directly, not to hope that some as unpredictable event as PO will do the job for you.

Please do point out where you think some one is naysaying something just to say it. Ask that people point out the problems. But also recognize that there is also a group that thinks that technology will save us and they need to be questioned just as strongly.

Here's my take on it. We've had the technical skills and technological ability to build space colonies and mine the asteroids since the 1970's. Why haven't we done so? Because when it comes to what we do and don't do, there are things far more important than technical or technological ability.

So, just as it is a business decision that leaves us with a barely adequate electrical grid. We will not build all these magic bbs people come up with, no matter how clever they are.

So, at least from me, know that when you see skepticism about the value of some technology, it is not the tech per se, it is the social and economic system we have that I am questioning.

Please do point out where you think some one is naysaying something just to say it

I prefer to restrain from pointing fingers, here and there but just think about it: in most cases the problem is just said and left to hang up in the air. There is little will to discuss its solutions, it is just assumed it will be hard to impossible.

We've had the technical skills and technological ability to build space colonies and mine the asteroids since the 1970's

The truth is that here on Earth, nobody needed and very few really desired to do that, given the resources it will take. Simple economics - if you are not willing to pay for a Ferrari, then you don't buy a Ferrari and then probably FIAT will not produce one for you. In contrast everyone I know wants, needs and is willing to pay for transportation, heating etc. etc. So there is a will, we know the ways, we just need to do it.

So, at least from me, know that when you see skepticism about the value of some technology, it is not the tech per se, it is the social and economic system we have that I am questioning.

Well, this is somehow aside from what we were talking about, but I am willing to generally agree with it - we do have a system which sucks in many ways. But, first we don't have anything better at hand and starting from scratch is hardly an option. Second, just like technology societies also evolve and I don't see why it can not happen/will not happen or it should be seen as a negative thing.

I erred if I gave you the impression that you should point fingers - what I meant is that shoddy thinking, poor arguments and blatant assumptions should be pointed out. That can be done politely (despite the behavior of some here ;-)).

The Ferrari comparison is very apt, only someone with money to burn would buy one. Otherwise, people get by on what they can.   But because they are just getting by, they will find they have to cut back when things get worse. The Ferrari owner will still be able to get his Ferrari, though

My last paragraph wasn't an aside, it was what I was driving at. What we face is not a technical problem, it is a cultural one. Trying to address it with technical solutions will only make matters worse (thus my own concerns that get me labeled as a doomer). You are right that societies evolve. They also devolve. Which one will we be? If we continue to think this is a technical problem, I'll bet on the later.

You are getting to where was my whole point from the very beginning. If (and I think so) there is something wrong with our cultural, economic system etc. then we should be addressing it specifically. I can not escape the feeling that many of the people here are willing to deny the feasibility of some technical solution, just because of that - because they hope that "something will change". But IMO this is very dangerous - something will certainly change, but what about changing in the direction of a facist govt? If this turns out to be the direction we are going aren't the technical solutions going to be a good thing after all?

IMO technical discussions should be kept aside from political/societal discussions. Technology can be used both in a good and bad ways - see nuclear or even biodiesel. It is up to us to take responsibility for the things we do. If it turns out we are unable not do that, we are going to fail in the long term one way or another, no matter of the technical gadgets we come up with - and here I agree with you. Now, how do we fix ourselves is of course the big problem but (sorry for repeating) I think we should go for it in a different discussion...

Again, you base your entire argument on the assumption that every car will be plugged in every night and draw energy from the grid.  This simply wont be the case in reality: drivers certainly dont go out and refill their cars every night do they?
No, I base my argument on the fact that a certain amount of energy needs to be expended every day to maintain the passenger miles currently travelled using gasoline.  It matters not how often the car is plugged in, it needs to store a certain amount of energy to travel a certain number of miles.  If a car needs 100 gallons of gas to go 2000 miles, it doesn't matter if it gets that gas in one big fillup or five small ones.  the energy content of that 100 gallons is required.  Electricity is no different.

To replace 320 million gallons of gasoline you need 3,0000 GWH of electricity.  It doesn't matter how often a diver plugs in their car, the USA needs to generate and use that much electricity every day.

Actually, we use less then 190 million gallons of gasoline a day, and most of that goes into cars that utilize less then 10% of the energy content of the gas.
According to Conoco Phillips who should know, the USA actually consumes about 400 million gallons of gas a day.  According to Genomics consumption was 380 million gallons per day in 2004 and 400 million per day in 2006.  You need to have your facts straight to argue effectively in this forum.

The low energy efficiency of ICE has been taken into account in my calculations.

It would take 3,000 GWH of electricity to replace one day of America's gasoline powered transportation with electricity.

No, your correct.  I did a quick calculation in my mind based on the 9.8 million bpd we use for gasoline and multiplied that by the 45% ratio that every barrel currently uses when I should have not.  400 million it is.  You have still yet to explain why we cant upgrade the grid and build new power stations to supply the energy needed for an EV fleet :P
I never said we couldn't upgrade our capacity to support it.  My point really is that if we're going to upgrade it we'll need to upgrade it a lot - potentially adding 25% or more additional capacity to maintain Business as Usual.

I have two answers to the question of upgrading the grid, though.  The first is that adding 25% to the electrical generation/consumption capacity of the USA is a monumental undertaking, especially if you add in the requirement to change out the fleet and the limitations to such industrial activity that will be imposed by oil shortages and the resulting rising costs.  The USA may not have the spare financial or industrial resources to do it, even if it's phased in over ten years.

The second answer is another question: "Do we really want to maintain Business as Usual"?  Given that BAU and increasing technology got us into the mess, how likely is it that the same formula will get us out?  If we are not in a "mammalian plague mode" with population collapse a genetically-driven foregone conclusion, then we at least need to drastically alter our species' behaviour to avoid destroying both our finite resource base and our finite waste sinks.  That means we have to start doing a lot less.  Making a lot less, using a lot less, building a lot less, travelling a lot less, eating a lot less.

Considered from that perspective, building more power plants using different fuels to feed new batteries so we can keep doing approximately the same things as we are doing now looks slightly deranged.

My personal opinion, heretical as it seems to most, is that we should each keep doing pretty much whatever we want.  Drive an SUV, ride a bike, buy a McMansion, power down, eat foie gras, grow your own veggies, harangue people about Peak Oil, ignore the whole issue - do whatever makes you happy, at least insofar as it's consistent with keeping your conscience onside.

The reason I take this position is because of what I've read and thought about over the past year.  Readings in peak oil, climatology, ecology, anthropology, archeology, politics and especially genetics have solidified my opinion that humanity in an inescapable box.  We,to a greater or lesser extent, are trapped into our behaviour by genetics; we are in a condition of ecological overshoot; our population curve looks indistiguishable from a mammalian plague graph; the social institutions we have created are extraordinarily resistant to change; and our growth imperative shows absolutely no sign of abating.

We are about to run into a number of inflection points simultaneously.  Oil depletion, climate change and food shortages are the biggies, and they are all going to start biting us within five to ten years.  There is no way to deal with them with the human population intact, and I believe it's much too late to do anything toi preventy it - if it was ever possible at all, given the nature of our species.

Despite all that, it's not in our nature to give up in the face of problems, so we will all keep beavering away trying new solutions.  And more power to us, if you'll pardon the expression.  It's just worth keeping in mind that it was "beavering away" that got us into this mess.

According to:


between 1994 and 2005 the U.S. increased its electrical generating capacity by 25%. Such growth is not intrinsically impossible or even particularly challenging or difficult. In fact I'll bet we've increased our electrical generation capacity by 25% many times over the course of history.

Replacing the entire fleet with electrical vehicles will probably be the harder part of the job.

But the real point here, the big point, the enormous, humongous, all-encompassing point is this:

If electrical vehicles can substitute for oil powered vehicles, then the entire Peak Oil "doomsday" scenario is false! All that disasturbation, all those survivalists holed up with their arsenals confidentally waiting for society to collapse and man to turn on his fellow man, all have been for nothing.

Sure, there will still be problems. Global warming is a concern some decades in the future. Nuclear power is no panacea. Guess what, the world is not Utopia. But people face and solve problems all the time.

The point remains that the assumptions of the Peak Oil disaster scenarios, that there will be no transportation infrastructure and everything will fall apart because of that, do not apply if electrical power can replace oil for transportation.

And we're on that road (so to speak) already. Hybrids are begetting plug-in hybrids, which will beget battery electric vehicles. Technology is moving fast in this area, with battery improvements and new solar cell technologies announced every week. Read http://www.greencarcongress.com/ - it's a great blog and really keeps up with this stuff. It's amazing how much is happening.

The world's not static, and people don't just sit there when something bad happens. They get out and fix it. That is what we see happening with this conversion to an electrical infrastructure for transportation, as well as the new focus on biofuels, wind and solar power. This is just beginning, and we will likely find ourselves much farther down this path in another ten years. It is this dynamism which is overlooked in the dystopian visions which for some people are such a central part of the Peak Oil concept.

"If electrical vehicles can substitute for oil powered vehicles, then the entire Peak Oil "doomsday" scenario is false! All that disasturbation, all those survivalists holed up with their arsenals confidentally waiting for society to collapse and man to turn on his fellow man, all have been for nothing."

Can I ask for a little more precision here? I don't know what you mean by the "entire Peak Oil "doomsday" scenario. There are many different competing scenarios about what might happen as oil productin peaks. Some or more "doomsday" like than others. It's not as though there is only one scenario being suggested.

Beyond that, if electric cars could replace internal combustion cars, that does not alleviate all negative based scenarios connected to peak oil production. Nor does it negate the deeper problems we have with our growth orientation. Consider that oil is merely the advance wave. There are severe limits on all sorts of resources that we will need to deal with if we continue our growth fetish. Not the least of which will be water. In some ways, "solving" the threat of peak oil with electric cars might just be setting us up for a bigger problem a few years out. I know some get tired of hearing this, but peak oil is not a technical problem.

When you factor in generation, transmission and distribution losses, the prospects for replacing all current American fleet-miles with EVs look significantly dimmer.  The calculations hint that a doubling of electrical capacity would be needed to accopmplish this.

The growth rate in generating capacity you point to is 2% per year.  To double the generating capacity of the USA at this rate would take 35 years.  To double it in twenty years would take a growth rate of 3.5%.  Remember that the growth rate required to support a switch to EVs has to be added to the existing requirement for growth in other areas of the economy, as represented by the current 2% growth rate.  Can we sustain a 4% to 7% pa growth in the electrical supply?  Can we rebalance our electrical usage to permit the inclusion of EVs within the current growth profile?  At best I'd give you a qualified maybe, mostly because we won't start doing anything about this in advance of the need becoming obvious.

And what happens when you try to extend this model to the rest of the planet?

I agree that man is a problem-solving animal, but a brief look beyond the purely technological arena reduces my confidence that technological problem-solving will provide suitably scaled solutions, especially to the tricorn dilemma of oil depletion, climate change and food shortages.  I see that as a species we wait until things become uncomfortable before undertaking solutions.  Despite the efforts of some individuals to look ahead and prepare solutions to potential problems, I see precious little evidence that their warnings and preparatory research are ever implemented until the status quo becomes unsupportable.  Until now we have been able to scramble through our challenges, to forcibly borrow the necessities for our continued survival from other locations on the planet, from other parts of the biosphere, even from the past at the expense of the future.  Is there enough unexploited elsewhere and elsewhen to allow us to perform this sleight of hand again?  Many of us are starting to have our doubts.

-most of us (myself included) are either practicing engineers or engineers by training.

Don't fool with us yourself. Most of us are statisticians. :)

The battery technology is ALREADY here.

Interesting. What kind of technology are you refering to? Perhaps a link would be appropriate.

I swear to god!  Some people have infantile attention spans!  Take a look at the Tesla.  Take a look at the fact that by this time next year, they will be marking a 4 door sedan that's affordable to >50% of the US automobile drivers.  Take into account economies of scales and some of the revolutionary new battery tech that just took place in the last 2 years.  Notice some of the key phrases here:

"Toshiba notes that the battery technology has another 'green' characteristic: the fast recharge means that less electricity is lost during the charging process, which in turn means that less electricity is required."

You don't need to keep these batteries plugged in and drawing electricity from the grid for hours at night.  For some, it takes only 5 minutes of plugged in time for full charge.

"The Japanese tech giant announced today a new generation lithium-ion battery technology which can be recharged to 80% in one minute, with total recharge taking a few minutes more. That's not all:"

"The excellent recharging characteristics of new battery are not its only performance advantages. The battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging, and can operate at very low temperatures. At minus 40 degrees centigrade, the battery can discharge 80% of its capacity, against 100% in an ambient temperature of 25 degree centigrade)."

Now couple this fact that the resting temperature for this battery is far higher then the optimum level for standard Li-Ion batteries, and then combine them with the temperature control system devised for the Tesla vehicle, and you get a battery pack that's not only resilient, but can be recharged 10s of  thousands of times before having to be replaced.

This is technology that exists TODAY.  It's not a pipe dream.  It's not some deluded techno-optimist fantasy.  This is NOT a star trek solution!  Why can't you people get that through your head?  You're staring at the technology that powers the automobile of the future.  Why are you dragging your feet through the mud of the past!?

Weren't those Lithium-Ion batteries that exploded in those Dell laptops?
Toshiba annonced the technology in march 2005 and said they'll be in use next year, which is now. Sorry, but it seems like those batteries are not availeble. I can't find them, or more revealing news about them. And i can't find information about the lifespan of those super batteries. You know, a drawback with li-ion batteries, is that they age - their performance does not only depend on number of charge/discharge cycles.

Security is also an issue. The technology probably is about 100 years old, but was not commercial available until circa 10 ago. All because problems with security.

Besides, those super batteries isn't new technology. It's improvement on old technological architecture. But who cares as long as the product delivers?

Some people have infantile attention spans!

Who? :)

High recharge rates do cause load problems, though. Charging a 50kWh capacity in 5 minutes takes an average 275 kW over that time, perhaps a lot more at the onset (I'm not sure how uniform the charging is). This wouldn't be a problem if everyone spaced out their charging, but most would do it when they got home or right before leaving in the morning. Granted, some scheme could possibly be worked out. Likewise, charging stations capable of simultaneously delivering that kind of juice to many cars would have to have one big supply of electrons.

I believe electric transportation is the future, but my questions are 1) how fast can we get there (before oil shortages) and 2) what happens when we get there. The quest is still there for bigger cars and more of them (and even faster recharge rates), so grid problems are inevitable. Cars can be replaced one at a time, but improving the grid requires a large scale, costly, coordinated effort--one that we'll put off until it breaks down.

Not a major problem with electric Urban Rail.  0.19% of US electricity use goes for electrified transportation today.  That is for 8,000 subway cars in NYC, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Chicago, Boston, Philly and ever other urban rail system operating today.

More efficient air conditioners (Bush rolled back Clinton's 13 SEER minimum to 12 SEER) alone could take enough off of the summer peak to run electric rail.

Electrified freight rail has a hidden "kicker".  50 kV is not enough to run cross-country with.  A higher voltage feeder line is required (see Russia et al).  That is also a new transmission line.  Electrified inter-city rail will strengthen the national grid by adding new high voltage transmission lines !

Best Hopes,


Posting this in the middle here, sorry.

What I have not found yet discussed, if it has been oops my bad.

Production of the vehicles will take how long?  Replace all the 200 million gas guzzling vehicles with Say only one design, ( every company can make the same car, just change the color ,  for example ).  How long can we gear up the tool and die makers to kick out the plants to kick out the cars to get them to the hands of joe public, to get rid of the Internal combustion engine cars?

We are talking in some of these posts about rolling over every car in America.  I know that in the real world 1 car replaced with an EV is better than nothing.  But the more we replace the better off we are right?

How long will it take to make 200 million cars?  Or only 100 million?  

I don't know.  But we are at the wall now, we need to do something , something more than the slow plodding we seem to be doing.  Changing out all the cars will be a vast undertaking.  only changing out 100,000 is still a vast undertaking from where we are right now.

We can talk about it all day long, but getting the ball rolling and moving in bigger numbers is what we need.

Thanks for the insight in the things I have only written about it fiction,  ( Future Tech novel story, had me starting the replace of all gasoline cars back in 1999, with full trade ins of the old cars for the new improved ION cars (thin film solar outer car skins, Poly-ion batteries ( thin polymers used for battery tech, etc etc.
* It was a great Sci-Fi help the future out of the bind of the past story.  )  I had the numbers cruching for total replacement of the US's Auto fleet in something like 10 to 15 years.  You can only build them so fast.

In our real world, do we have 10 years?

10 years to retool completely?  Consider the Ford Fusion.  It had a faulty design in the grill.  Ford said they would fix it and that would take 7 months.  Maybe the Japanese auto's can retool, thei0r facilities are designed so they can assemble almost any model in the fleet at any factory within mere weeks.  Talk about lean.
A developing nation of about 90 million people, and just 3% of US GNP (2005) and with quite primitive methods managed to 1) build subways and elevated Urban Rail lines in their largest cities and 2) build electric Urban Rail lines in 500 cities and towns.  Most towns of 25,000 and larger got at least one tram line.  All in twenty years time, building a new industry almost from scratch.

That nation ?

The United States of America.


Best Hopes,



I agree with most of your vision, but you keep bringing this up from time to time.  While I don't disagree that it was a feat, you can not discount that the conditions from which that was created is different.  There were highly entrenched interests to stop urban rail.  K Street AFAIK was not the dominating party in power at the behest of corporations.  Don't get me wrong, I know there were monopolies, but at this time there are a lot more struggles to get anything done in gov't when the highest bidder usually wins.

Just to pull a number out of my butt, drawing 50kWh in any amount of time, just say an hour to make it simple (I know very little about electricity), you're talking about, what, 1/2 gauge wires and 100-200 amp circuits?
Actually after playing around with a worksheet on the internet, it looks like 50k watts in one hour at 240 volts requires just over a 200 amp circuit.
Can you even do that with single phase current? Jesus man.
Yeah, putting a tank of gas in a car in a couple of minutes is like hooking up to a megawatt power supply. We let teenagers pump gas. A goal of doing the equivalent with electricity does not seem like a good idea.
I did the numbers some time back on an RR proposal, but the idea of fast charging at home is not going to happen. Fast charging an electric car requires a high-power electrical line and transformer.
Yes I base my idea upon others already posted here. My home, small and built in the 40's, has maybe a 40 amp breaker? Perhaps a 60? Of course I could ride my bike to work, so.... What can you say, it's complicated. At best I think electric cars range will always be quite limited. That should be considered now.
I think that in future there will be "battery stations" where they will be replacing your entire battery pack with a recharged one for minutes.

The idea is a very simple one and has been discussed many times here.

I like the Tesla but their battery technology is far from proven. Only time will tell how they stand up. The lithium batteries they use have calendar life issues. Also a 1000 cycles isn't much if you recharge every night. I know it isn't a full cycle but it will degrade the battery. Given the market for the Tesla, these issues may not be a problem. However, on a bigger scale if you can't get a battery that size to last 10 years without replacement I don't see it as a viable large scale solution.

All the new battery technologies you see mentioned on the web look great. However, I wouldn't believe them until large scale production/usage occurs. I worked in research and I can tell you it is just as open to spin as any other area. It is what they are NOT telling you that matters i.e. limitations or the cost of production.

This Tesla 4 door is interesting, but I'm from the Show Me State, so I'll wait for that.
I had a long talk with the owner of Modern Outpost (in BC, Canada), which supplies high tech supplies to modern expeditions; including all sorts of cool solar battery power for laptops, cell phones etc.

He told me that the 16 AHr NiMH batteries he had been selling had been pulled, and when he asked the supplier about larger replacements, he found out that the difficulties, at this point, were formidable.

According to him, these units are just NiMH "C" batteries welded together, and if they made larger ones there were problems of safety and reliability. (I wish I had taken notes, because it was an eye opener).

Isn't it true that the Tesla (which I belive costs over $100K) runs on a mass of C or AA batteries, in a huge mass?

Since I live off grid, I would love to run our very modest PV system off NiMH or some comparable battery system. But they don't seem to exist (If they do, please give me a link; I would love to buy it).

And if they don't exist for well heeled homeowners, who don't care about weight issues, how are they going to come into existence for vehicles, to whom weight is all important?  

Take a look at the cobasys (www.cobasys.com)site - they have complete NiMH backup system of any power demand you want. Not sure how homeowners get them, however. Most are going to industrial or commercial applications. I'll be curious how you make out.
Thank you for that link!

Their web site is a bit murky, as their products are only for sale to corporate and industrial users.

They did have a battery that seemed equivilent to a deep cycle "golf cart" battery; 48 v., 85 Ah (kind of thin on the amps, if you ask me; my L 16's are 6 volts, 370 amps). And if this were available for sale, I'm sure it would cost far more than the $125 my L 16s cost.

They seem designed for battery backup for corporate users, who need a bank of batteries in a high rise, where they cannot risk a buildup of hydrogen gas or acid spills, and where they don't have to do maintenance.

Anyway, here's what their FAQ had to say:


If you are looking for industrial NiMH batteries, your choices are limited. There is no distribution network for NiMH batteries above 10 Ampere Hours (Ah). Batteries above 10 Ah are manufactured for specialty uses only. Cobasys does manufacture batteries above 10 Ah; however, they are produced for high-volume systems applications.
... NiMH battery technology is very powerful. To get maximum benefit, it requires special knowledge to safely handle batteries above 10 Ah. There are websites that provide general information on NiMH battery technology. Please use a web search engine to find these locations.

And they have this to say about NiMH for autos.

Advanced battery technologies are typically evaluated in terms of complete discharge cycles. A standard electric vehicle battery can be charged and discharged 1,000 times to 80% depth-of-discharge (DOD) equivalent to over 100,000 miles. Hybrid vehicle applications use batteries very differently. Typically, the emphasis is not on energy storage, but on power density. The battery is, generally, never fully charged or discharged in hybrid applications. NiMH batteries used in hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) applications can be cycled in shallow discharges hundreds of thousands of times and last over 200,000+ miles under a partial charge/discharge regime.  

It looks to me like this will be very exciting when it really gets off the ground, but it looks like it's still in the specialized applications mode right now.

Well lets see:  I have a fishing boat with Four 500 A-hr  12 volt lead acid batteries. In 4 hours at 3 Mph they require a 25% recharge. That's 500 A-hrs of recharge, that's equivalent to 4 amps for 12 hours with a 120-volt source, however each battery initially charges at 15 amps with a 14 volt source that slowly decreases charge current to 1 amp at 16 hours, depending on the initial discharge level. That means I would require 48 amps for 1 hour, or 576 amps for 5 minuets with a 120-volt source, or 314 amps with 220-volt source. Many homes have a 50 amp main breaker. 5 minuets don't look too practical to me, and I am sure any EV will have considerably more A-hr capacity than my boat. A given storage capacity requires a fixed amount  of recharge energy independent of the battery type, and these numbers are independent of charge losses.  
Take a look at the fact that by this time next year, they will be marking a 4 door sedan that's affordable to >50% of the US automobile drivers.

With 30-year financing maybe.  According to this article, the sedan will sell for somewhere between $50,000 and $65,000.  Given that the US median household income in 2005 was reported to be $43,326, spending that kind of dough on a car would seem to be a bit of a stretch for the average American.

As opposed to buying a $35,000 SUV, dishing out $2000 on gas or more a year, and the aveage lifetime mantinence of $10,000 for the vehicles operational limits?  Why cant a car be financed out over 10 or 15 years.  Its worth every penny if it can save the planet.
Well if it helps your peace of mind:

(1) At least one persone gets it
(2) That Toshiba news is amazing. Have they really developed a battery with such a long life-span and such great charging characteristics. I belive that Sharp is doing great work on PV conversion. It may be blocked in the States but PV+Elec car will come to Japan by virtue of necessity. They have negligible fossil fuel reserves are Geographically and militarily disadvantaged. Therefore they must go with alternatives first.

For the others, specially Americans, it will happen only when fossil fuels get substantially more expensive. That could take another 50 years since as Japan, Europe, India, China.. consume less fossil fuels there will be more for US burners. I suppose I always knew at heart why I immigrated here after college. I may go and buy that big vehicle that I have had my eye on, now that they are so cheap :-)  

Thats for sure. Plus I firmly belive that our use of electricity is extremely wasteful and is fuelled in part by its being so cheap. The amount spent on electricity by a family of 4 making 100 grand (50k/50k husband/wife for e.g.) would be <2% of their pre-tax gross.

It also seems to me that running out of fossil fuels has a silver lining and the sooner the better:

(i) lower Malthusian population limit is reached if fossil fuels run out early
==> less Malthusian correction and in the end less death, pain and suffering!!!

I have raised that point before.  A lot of people were surprised to hear that the grid is in such poor shape.  

All of our infrastructure is crumbling.  We haven't seriously invested in it since about 1970 (peak oil USA, perhaps not coincidentally).  

Some weeks ago I suggested that electic vehicles would have severe problems in scaling -- similar to that of bio fuels.

My point was that the first round of alt energy is easy and uses waste veg oil/ surplus cheap corn/ off peak electric grid. The second and third rounds overwhelm the system.

Bio diesel is also known as "cooking oil" and as we monopolize it, third world people will be priced out. Ditto  when grain prices skyrocket due to ethanol production combined with the effects of drought.

If huge numbers of people switch to EV, there will no longer be "off peak" grid, and there will have to be an enormous investment in upgrading the grid, and building a raft of new power plants.

When looking at the sorry state of the grid as it is, we need to ask "Who pays?" as well as "where will the energy come from" Especially since NG will be in decline, and need to be offset somehow.

California provides an excellent example of some of these problems.

since 1970! if you go to many places across the country, "the grid" hasn't been touched since the 20s or 30s. It's an old machine that those who control it have no intention of changing many of the things they want to throw money at to update it are a waste. We need to totally rethink how we do electricity and it's gooing to be done by most in the electric industry or their supplicant bureaucrats in the government.
woops that's "not going to be done"
since 1970! if you go to many places across the country, "the grid" hasn't been touched since the 20s or 30s.

Yup, that's true.  But I was talking about all our infrastructure (roads, bridges, sewer, water, etc.), not just electricity.

View things through the lens of history and physics:

All transportation is solar powered.  The low-human effort transport of the horse takes acres of grain, hours of effort to maintain - which ment for the most part only the well off had such.   Because they had the land to collect the solar energy.

Plug in electric cars will end up being wind or PV powered...from your local generation.   The grid won't matter.

Plug in electric cars will end up being wind or PV powered...from your local generation.   The grid won't matter.

Except for the 99% of the population without access to solar or wind power and without the means to gain access.

I think the "hothgarz" of the world see the whole and not the parts - and therefore do not see how a few failing organs could destroy The Beast.  Failure of the weakest links in the world economy will increase and the number of weakest links will also increase until the biopolitical ponzi scheme collapses.

Except for the 99% of the population without access to solar or wind power and without the means to gain access.

ding  You understand.    Cars everywhere exist because of cheap energy.   When that cheap energy goes away, business reasons for transportation and the well-off will be all that have cars.

Just don't expect us peons to pay for the rich folks' roads.  If Bill Gates wants to drive his electric limo around, he can shell out the million dollars a mile it takes to build/maintain the roads.
Alas they'll tell us that the roads are needed for "national security" reasons, and fund them from our income taxes.  Didn't they already do that (in the USA) when they first started the Interstate Highway system?
The reason there was support for it wasn't national security, though.  It was because by then, ordinary folks had cars and wanted to drive them.  

Of course, GM buying up public transportation and killing it had something to do with that...

Just don't expect us peons to pay for the rich folks' roads.

Who's paying for the 'war to keep rich people's building standing and cheap oil flowing' (and whatever other ways you want to look at present events as an expression of the privilage of wealth)?

The 'road maintance' will be part of the general budget, and 'the poor' will be paying part of their cashflow to keep the roads.    The peon's will pay...have no doubt.

The alternative becomes roads and cars too expensive to keep.   At least at the speeds and comfort levels we now enjoy.

Who's paying for the 'war to keep rich people's building standing and cheap oil flowing' (and whatever other ways you want to look at present events as an expression of the privilage of wealth)?

The key is that it's not just rich people.  Even the poor drive in the good ol' USA.  

Even so, I don't think there will be support for the war in Iraq for much longer.

The alternative becomes roads and cars too expensive to keep.

I think that's quite likely.  

Even the poor drive in the good ol' USA.  

And what will be the reaction?   The reaction of the 'dis-effect-ed' is what I worry about.

(and how do I get that reaction pointed away from me)

Baghdad may have some suggestions.  People are hiding their nice cars, instead driving old, beat up junkers.  If they drive at all.  They don't want anyone to think they have money.  The guys openly driving big, new cars and trucks are the gangsters.
"They don't want anyone to think they have money."

I look forward to the day when it's again considered vulgar to flaunt wealth, but I think as you point out it may become lethal, too.

As for the poor in America driving - and watching Cable, microwaving etc - maybe the "poor in America" are wealthy beyond the dreams of the poor in much of the rest of the world as well as the wealthy of the past?

(Note to self: Torn blue jeans from the 70's to make a come back soon...)


As for the poor in America driving - and watching Cable, microwaving etc - maybe the "poor in America" are wealthy beyond the dreams of the poor in much of the rest of the world as well as the wealthy of the past?

And when they loose the car and cable, how do you think they are going to react?

Like titbabies with attitudes.
"As for the poor in America driving - and watching Cable, microwaving etc - maybe the "poor in America" are wealthy beyond the dreams of the poor in much of the rest of the world as well as the wealthy of the past?"

Of course, depends on what you mean by poor, but there is something to what you suggest. If you are at the average income for american household (just over $43,000) per year, you are in the top 5% for income in the world.

That's my point - the definition of poor varies greatly over time and space.  
All vehicles are run on solar power -- from the rays of ancient sunshine. Going from using fossilized solar energy to current solar energy is a huge leap.

We've just set up a PV system for our house -- very tiny, very complicated, extremely expensive. Now we're looking at a solar array for pumping water, and the same thing. Luckily we have a  lot of money, or it would not be feasible.

That's why, here in Southern Arizona, not a single new developement I have seen has PV standard.

One very upscale development in east Tucson is very PV friendly, and they are proud of the solar systems that line their flat roofs. Unfortuntely, their reluctance to mar their yards with clotheslines, combined with the lack of NG, means that everybody there has an electric clothes dryer. In ARIZONA!

Consequently, all that PV power is used to partially offset the use of (to my mind) completely redundant clothes dryers. Electricity for their new EVs will have to come from someplace else.


All vehicles are run on solar power -- from the rays of ancient sunshine. Going from using fossilized solar energy to current solar energy is a huge leap.

Yes.  It looks like a huge leap becasue that old sunshine was priced cheap.

The expense of a horse kept most people without them.   Cars have been CHEAP.  Almost free - as far as out of pocket expenses.  

Electricity for their new EVs will have to come from someplace else.

EVs will become electric bikes in the low energy future.  Unless there is some breakthrough in high temp superconductors, then a new xport system that uses said conductors will have a justification to be built.

As the economy goes into contraction, the insurance business which is deeply tied to the 40% of the 'providing monetary services' will want to stay "on top" - and will raise rates.   As rates go up, less of the lower class will be able to afford cars.  As the number of cars goes down, the 'bulk' nature of car insurance prices will drop and the price will go up.  (repeat circle)  

Thus far bike insurance is cheap....

I agree.

We have an e-GO electric scooter, and it zips along quietly and fast, with great get up and go. We charge it from our PV system, and it goes 20  miles on 500 watt hours. So going a couple miles to the store and back only requires a small amount of  solar charging.

The problem is going on roads with monster pick-up trucks going ten miles over the speed limit.

Once these gas hogs start to fade away, electic scooters and other low speed EVs will become the way to go. It's the transition from here to there that will be a problem.

My idea of the ideal would be things like the Dynasty Car, which is a great little car or pickup truck, that zips along at 25 mph, on just a little bit of juice.

If people weren't in such a G-D- hurry, and if there were special lanes for these things, then we could possible solve much of transportation issues.

I'll ignore the accuracy of that 1 paragraph blurb from an unknown magazine.

Lets say this magical superconductor that works a outdoor temperatures (not minus 321 F) is available Jan 1 2010 in mass quantities and very cheap. (and for the recod that will never ever happen)

How long do you think it will take to replace the countiry's electrical grid with that stuff? All the way from the power station to the last mile? How much money do you think that will take?

How about just augmenting the existing grid by 25-50% How long  and how much money would that take?

What about social inertia? NIMBY and politics? How are you going to convince people its worth the time and money?

I'm not saying it can't be done. I'm not saying technology won't improve. I'm just saying its going to be a heck of a lot harder than you might think.

Oh sorry, I just noticed its from pop mechanics.
And everybody know what a reputable engineering publication they are.

I know, how about you find a 2 year old press release? That'd at least be a step up.

Whats wrong with popular mechanics? :P
There's nothing wrong with it per say if you want something to read on the can.

But do I really need to explain to you the shortcommings of a magazine like pop mech?!?

Hothgor, people on this board are for the most part extremely educated and very skeptical. Your input is most welcomed but please try to make it a bit more substantive than a scan from pop mech.

Again, do I really need to explain this?!?

I think you missed the point entirely, Rethin.  I didnt need to add any explination to the scan I posted: it speaks for itself!  There have been a number of people today who commented on the dangers our electric grid currently faces, and that it needs a lot of repairs and investment to meet future electric demand, particually if it's going to support 210 million EVs running around in 20 years.

What that picture shows is that the technology to support the increase in load on the grid is already here and is already being put into place.  These new wires are more efficient at trasmiting energy over long distances, and use far less raw materials then our current oversized copper wire setup does.  Did you know that there has been a lot of talk about 'peak copper' in recent years?  Would you care to estimate how many 1000s of tons of copper are used just in our electric power line grid?

That picture shows something thats lacking here: hope.  Hope that through constructive technological advances and a more common sense approach to energy generation and utilization that we might just come out of peak oil relatively unscathed.  I know that sounds ridiculous to you, but so did a ICE vehicle for every family in America when ford introduced the Model-T.

Why is it that I need to explain this to so many people?

I didn't ask you to explain the scan. I asked if I had to explain why Pop Mech is not reputable.

But I do understand the point you are trying to make.

Yes the scan speaks for itself.
However it doesn't stand by itself. Pop Mech is a rag. That 1 paragraph blurb was written by an english major with zero engineering training/experience in high temp semi concutors, electrica engineering, or even manufacturing.
His source was some marketing flack from some bit player trying to make a name for themselves. I bet the engineers in said company would laugh at said 1 paragraph blurb (if they weren't entirely disgusted by it). I know. I'm an engineer and I've read press releases by my company (large and reputable even).

The technology you say is here is NOT here!

  1. High temperature semi conductors barely exist in the lab.
  2. Your Toshiba battery was R&D level tech that has completely failed to materialize (note this is very common in R&D)
  3. The Telsa Roadster is still only a promise. It has yet to be produced. Let alone some magical sedan for less than your yearly salary.

Yet you quote us two year old press releases or blurbs from pop mech. I couldn't even find a press release for the Telsa sedan!

Please bear in mind these are not credible sources. They carry no weight at all. A scan from a glossy mag or press release is not "explaining" it to us.

Try linking to an article with sources cited (you'll notice most things are sourced here on TOD). Even better than that try to find a science or engineering journal that's peer reviewed. That would carry a ton of weight here.

The technology is not here. At best its in the lab. I don't know what your background is, but trust me it's very very far from the lab to walmart.

And you still didn't answer my questions about the cost of this even if it was available in the near future.

You are placing your hope in technology that does not exist. And then getting upset because TODers don't share that hope.

One more thing. I WANT TO BELIEVE! I really do. But I'm also skeptical (its my science/engineering background). If you have real evidence of technology that can prevent peak oil I AM ALL EARS!
If not then stop getting upset and insulting people.

Here you go!  Notice the sedan is code named 'White Star' as opposed to the Tesla being code named 'Black Star'.  They are utilizing the new battery technology, such as the one Altir just produced to ensure the Sedan is affordable and practical for the average consumer.  I don't know about you, but I'd trust some Silicon Valley veterans over someone who randomly pops up to dismiss the technological advances that are currently being implemented :P

For the most part, your entire argument is based on trying to convince people that what I have said and proved mathematically thus far isn't true at all, and you have zero evidence to support your statements other then that you are supposedly involved in the science/engineering background.  If technological advancements never came from R&D development, we'd still be a hunter/gatherer species!!

How do I prove a negative? How does someone prove that something doesn't exit?!?

The burden of proof is on you. And you have offered no proof other than a blurb from wired or pop mech.

You keep telling me that technogial advances are currently being implemented and show me a scan from a Pop Mech. I say that technology doesn't exist (but how do I prove that?) and say please show me something more substantive.

I even explained why a blurb from a glossy mag isn't useful and suggested something better for you.

You reply with yet another blurb from a glossy magazine (wired). Mind you this was about a different topic entirely (Tesla sedan vs superconductor grid). Do you have anything to back up you magical superconductor theory yet?

I complained I couldn't even find a press release from Tesla about a sedan (far from substantive mind you) and you reply with a unsourced blurb from Wired (even less substantive than a press release).

Of course technologies come from R&D. It just takes a long time. And just because a technology is in R&D doesn't mean its here now. Its here now when its being produced in factories.

Stop saying its here now. The Tesla roadster isn't even being produced. The Tesla sedan hasn't even been admited to by the company, its just a rumor. But you are waving it around as a fact yelling it will save us all.

And BTW what is with :P? Are you 14 years old?

Yeah, they just quietly took a cool million from celebraties around the world and pocketed the cash instead of making the cars!  Could you perhapse come up with a better arguement then that?

But, since you like dealing with concrets of how technology is currently be adapted, I sign off tonight with one final link.  Some quotes of interest:

"Governor George E. Pataki today announced that a new high-temperature superconducting (HTS) power cable developed by a partnership of companies, including SuperPower, Inc. of Schenectady, has been energized and will be monitored on the local utility grid for the first time anywhere in the world.  This live-grid demonstration is an important step in the development of cutting-edge technologies to meet increasing energy demands in large cities. The HTS cable deployed in Albany is able to carry 3 to 5 times more current than conventional power lines of the same thickness."

"Albany County Executive Mike Breslin said, "This project has made our region a model in the development of superconducting power technology. This innovative break-through will make energy delivery more efficient and affordable and will bring tremendous economic opportunity to our community."

"The high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable technology offers the potential to provide numerous benefits over existing technology. In addition to being able to carry a greater load, the cables are also lighter and easier to install and handle, and will deliver power at lower voltages, reducing the need for step-up and step-down transformers. The cables use liquid nitrogen for cooling, rather than flammable oils, which will help to prevent fires or explosions in the event of a leak or overload. The HTS devices also are more electrically efficient, which can help to reduce line losses and generation demand that can produce greenhouse gas emissions."

And finally!

"The commissioning of the cable marks the world's first demonstration of an underground HTS cable system in a live utility grid, rather than in a lab, or industrial or substation settings. The project also is the first demonstration of a cable-to-cable joint, critical to ensuring that long lengths of cable will be able to be installed."

That last statment sums up my arguements nicely for the evening.  This isnt the lab.  This isnt technical babble.  This isn't a magical Star Trek technolution.  This is cold, hard, in your face reality.  The scan I showed you demonstrates the kind of cables that will be used to upgrade our electricity grid for future use.  Coupled with the Tesla, I hope I have at least outlined the basic 'direction' I see when I think about the 'future'.  What do you see?

Let me guess, a US hosted site isnt reliable!  No one of credible reputation uses them!  Most people on this web site laugh at you for using this!!  And so on and so on...

Goodnight.  Post what you may, but at least back it up with facts and not debunking statements.  Until next time! :P

They are taking Pre orders for the roadster. They are producing nothing yet (you have honestly never heard of a startup taking pre orders for a product then folding before it can deliever?).
You keep talking about the sedan.
Is there going to be a sedan? Maybe, I dunno. And unless you are a Tesla in sider I bet you don't know either.

Your link about the high temp semi conductor is the first piece of useful news you have posted yet. Thank you! A technology demonstrator is good news, and much much better than a blurb from Pop mech. Kudos to you.

Next time start out with that.
I'd love to know more about this technology demo. Is it just a political stunt? Is the technology viable? Did it even work? How expensive is it? How far away from mass production is this technology?
Alas aside from the existance of the project this press release tell us really nothing.

One interesting tidbit is

The cables use liquid nitrogen for cooling

Doesn't really sound like high temp semi conductor technology is here does it :P

Another interesting tid bit is

During a second phase of the project, SuperPower will provide the second generation coated conductor HTS wire that will be fabricated into a cable that will then be retrofitted and tested on a 30-meter section of the cable system.

In other words sometime in the future they hope to do a 30 meter long section.

Doesn't really sound like high temp semi conductor technology is here does it :P

How long will it take to bring this technology to a market? 10 years? 20 years? 50 years?
Fusion power has had similiar demonstrations for years. Does that mean we can stake our hopes on fusion power? Does that mean fuion technology is "here"?

This is a step beyond the lab. But a baby one.
I offer you the very press release you gave me as proof that high temp semi conductor technology is not "here".

Look at that, I just proved a negative :-P

Darn it.

I keep writing semiconductor instead of superconductor.

I guess that gives my field away. I am a semiconductor engineer.

Why is it that I need to explain this to so many people?

Becasue liquid nitrogen cooled superconductor isn't really a "High Temprature Superconductor" that is a large scale workable solution.   At 100 deg C, then you have a conductor that is a 'replacement' for copper cable.

What is wrong with actually addressing the point about actual high temp superconductors being ROOM temp +?
Actually I just looked this up cause it was confusing me too.

High temp superconductors refer to any super conductor at or above the temp of liquid nitrogen

So technically that is a high temp super conductor.

Its also a far cry from room temp super conductors

So what if a cable in a nitrogen-bath considered 'high temp'?  

How exactly does this change the need for an expensive infrasturcture with expensive upkeep with such a "high temprature"?

So what if a cable in a nitrogen-bath considered 'high temp'?  
How exactly does this change the need for an expensive infrasturcture with expensive upkeep with such a "high temprature"?

It doesn't really. I just thought it clarified things a bit is all.

What is there to clarify on our part?  Hothgar is the one claiming 'this is a solution' - he's the one who needsto justify why the upkeep of a nitrogen pipeline is magically cost effective VS the present costs of a metal cable that doesn't continous upkeep.
yawn Liquid Nitrogen.

Wake me up when they have HIGH temp supercunductors.  Like 100 deg C.

Hello Eric Blair,

Excellent point!  I think that if Cascadia succeeds in going totally biosolar postPeak [a big IF], that they would want PHEV firetrucks and ambulances.  The batts could be recharged by PV, wind, hydro, or tidal-- much faster & more powerful vehicles than using horse-drawn emergency vehicles.  Recall my old posting where certain rural areas of Zimbabwe are using oxen-carts to haul the sick & injured to the hospitals. Yikes!

By the way: certain parts of Tanzania [home to Olduvai Gorge] are about to go into total darkness!!!

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

The news on Tanzania is especially sad because they were once a great hope for sub saharan Africa. The land reform system they introduced in the 70s - I think it was called Ujama - was built around small family owned organic farms. What a shame what poor leadership and international neglect have led to in Africa.
It looks like the primary problem is drought, which has emptied the reservoirs and deprived the generators of power.

I travelled through Tanzania 30 years ago. Beautiful country, well intentioned, but really misguided socialist government. The only cloth you could buy was imprinted with the letters of the ruling party. Nobody wore it (everyone wore beautiful fabrics of astonishing variety). But since the government produced it, Gresham's law drove out all the good stuff.

Bad news about no power: no electricity means warm Kimba Beer!

I think that innovations like plug in hybrids or technologies which require a lot of additional expense to save energy should be treated like solar PV.  While PV may be a good thing, most people are advised to become as efficient as possible before installing PV or before intstalling a solar thermal system.

We need to build our communities like we build energy efficient housing.  As we build the house and buy the appliances to burn as little energy as possible, communities should be built or rebuilt to require as little transportation as possible and especially transporation in the form of personal mobility as in automobiles.

I have a Prius so I am not criticizing hybrids.  However, while we as a society are willing to subsidize and incentivize hybrids , we just tack those vehicles on an already grossly efficient transportation and planning system which encourages us to build farther and farther out with little thought as to the additional miles driven to take advantage of existing infrastructure.  We don't need any more suburbs or exurbs; we need to preserve as much open space and farm land as possible so that we can have as much local agriculture and recreation as possible.

Anyone who has read some of the blogs on the Prius will soon realize that there are a lot of people out there who are quite ecstatic that they can now realize their 100 mile commute at a much cheaper price.  How wonderful it is to buy an efficient vehicle so we can continue to experience our insane lifestyle and housing patterns.

Attempts to run suburbia or exurbia after peak oil are hopeless unless we can find ways to help people stay put. The American dream is to own your own home, but this dream is sort of a nightmare since it makes it all that more difficult for people to make the kinds of relocations that would encourage  a less energy intensive existence.

As for the grid, we can run a lot of PHEVs and EVs just using the existing baseload.  Fine. But let's not put all our eggs in that basket.  


It seems like in this electric vehicle talk speculation, we don't bring up the importance of city planning and infrastructure changes and foresight that could help so greatly.  Right now, the large gasoline powered vehicle is still king.  People say they don't have a choice in their mode of transportation (such as using a bicycle, electric bike, scooter, or Sparrow type car) because other people driving big vehicles on the existing roads dictate what they can safely do.  So, we need designated roads for those vehicles so they can feel safe.  Once gas goes to $4-$5/gallon, the people commuting in the gas-guzzlers will be envying the people on these designated roads because they have a better standard of living due to the way in which they commute.  Consequently, more roads could then be designated for these small vehicles as the need for them increases/price of gas goes up.  
I respect your opinion, but IMHO I'm with Alan on this one.  We need massive investment in urban light rail.  We need to stop trying to hold on to a car for our own selfish reasons.  
That was exactly my point.  Instead of continuing life as we know it by replacing gas powered cars with electric cars, lets work on our infrastructures to accomodate even smaller vehicles safely.  I agree with Alan, too!
BTW, is it true that all Wendies in St.Louis have closed due to an economic squeeze in the the fast-food business? Curious PO story?
I don't have the link, but I read a study on mass transit that showed there was a population density point where, above that point mass transit was feasible, and below that it was not.

Most of our suburbs are so spread out, and the places people need to travel to so diverse, that mass transit becomes very problematic. That is why the new systems in LA and Phoenix are so mind numbingly expensive, and don't do much to relieve congestion.

Once LA gave up it's red car system (or rather, once it was killed by GM), it really began to develop in a direction that was a one way road.

Jim, my suggestion is to tear up the center lanes from all the interstates in major cities and create the necessary stations at you see fit.  The problem then is integrated your perpendicular routes to that highway and into the burb areas.  Not a real solution, but a thought anyway.
Doesn't that study make some assumptions about the percentage of car-drivers that can be convinced to ride the bus instead?  Does the minimum density decrease as that percentage increases (thanks to $10/gallon gasoline)?

I think that one limitation on mass transit in suburbs that will not go away  is that you can't have the bus stop by all houses on all streets.  I.e., the riders will have to walk or bike (or even drive) a few hundred feet (or even a couple of miles) to get to the bus stop.  Better than nothing.

That's exactly why I think this is only a thought and not any type of solution.  My thinking is that cars will become very uneconomical for many.  People are being priced out at the moment in my city as the ridership on mass transit available jumps every time gas gets higher.  I think it's down now that gas is $2/gal, but I'll be curious to see what it's like in the winter.

Ridership will increase marginally and at some point, densities will change as those who want to keep their cars will move closer into the cities (if they are one of the first, they will enjoy healthy appreciation) or they will abandon cars for cheaper forms of local transportation and would get to a stop with a bike mostly.

Also the importance of this working has more to do with what type of grid system you setup to criss cross and provide choices to enter the urban rail network.  If you could get to a stop within a mile and a half at most, you're looking at a 20 min ride to get on the train.  Trains will force us to reevaluate this go go life style IMHO.

  1. make public transit free
  2. change tax system:

    • property taxes presently pay for road building
    • change that to a car tax (mileage driven per weight might be good)
    • use that for roads AND public transit. It will seem expensive, but you pay less property tax
    • switch remaining property tax from building to land; that's how you get density

  3. now see how many people will move to transit

All this does is make the user pay. In my hood here, less than half of the households own a car. But they all pay for the roads, that are used mostly by people who live elsewhere, and don't pay a dime for 'our' roads.

Most of those studies ignore something called "the transit riding habit".  How much do those people use the Urban Rail ?

A high transit riding habit will offset a medium low density, and vica versa.  Post-Peak Oil, EVERYONE"S transit riding habit will increase.  The number of viable routes will skyrocket !

Urban Rail is unique in that it can create it's own ridership (not always, the near capacity LA Blue Line has very little TOD.  I meant to ask Darryl Clark (father of the Expo Line) about that when he was visiting).  I did see condos going up next to Gold Line stops.

IMHO, post-Peak Oil, there will be a rush for TOD

The last exchange Darryl & I had as he got in his Prius to drive onward to Boston & the ASPO conference was his question "How do we transform Los Angeles into a series of walkable neighborhoods like New Orleans ?"  My answer was "that was what God made bulldozers for".

Best Hopes,


Where the hell did you hear that?  Yes they did close, but here's the real story.  The franchisee company (can't remember now) owned almost all of the Wendy's in STL.  They owed the parent co something to the tune of 2-3 million.  They had been negotiating with Wendys for months and they didnt reach a deal.  They were forced to shut down and most of the workers (i know one) still haven't got their checks.

Shortly after it happened it was suppose to be re opened under a new holding company, but that never materialized. They are still closed and I'm waiting for a fire sale to break up the best locations.  The one downtown(where I'm at) was packed, both lines during the lunch hour.  They weren't even open past 6 due to severe flight out of the city past dark (he he). I'm pissed b/c in the winter I loved that chili and those baked potatoes.  

Actually, it was on the News Hour last night, on public tv.
Well I guess if you call owing $3 mil to your backers then yeah they were caught in an economic squeeze, but I really don't think it was lack of biz.  I think it was bad management at the top.  The wendy's I went to near my house and down town were consistently busy during peak times.  I can't say how their cash flow was though.  
I have read a couple of reports from utilities that have studied the impact of plug-ins and they don't seem too concerned about overloading the grid. However, they did stipulate that some control would be needed to ensure they were charged at off peak times. In fact there is currently a lot of energy wasted at off peak times because plants can't be scaled back quickly. For example, you cannot just shut off a coal fired turbine. They have to be shut down slowly to avoid problems with sudden changes in temperature causing cracking to critical components.

The other thing to consider is that even if you could buy plug-In's today it would take at least 10 to 20 years before the current car inventory was turned over and replaced with these. This would give the utilities lots of time to scale up if required. Also don't forget a large amount of the money we were sending to the oil companies would be redirected to the utilities. This would give them extra capital. They could also charge more for this electricity and it would still be cost effective compared to gas (especially in the future once the decline really starts)

There is some useful info on plug-in's here


In fact there is currently a lot of energy wasted at off peak times because plants can't be scaled back quickly.

Which is why they use natural gas or diesel for "peaking plants."

Not in some cases. Some utilities either don't have the extra capactity in just gas turbines or they refuse to use them because gas is too costly (not a problem just now). Plus I don't see a big long term future for gas turbines given the outlook for gas production especially in NA.
At what point in the conversion to EVs does the "off peak" disappear and become "on peak" 24/7?

At what point do new power plants and heavier wires have to be produced to deal with the new night-time peak load?

I found an electricity consumption curve for Ontario, Canada.  It's reasonable to generalize crudely from that to the North American situation.  It indicates that off-peak consumption is about 75% of peak consumption, but the off-peak period is much shorter than the peak period.  We're running somewhat below capacity right now, but during the summer we max right out.

There isn't room in the picture for the 25% additional load that a full conversion to plug-in electrics would require.  In fact, I'd bet that a 10% load hike would put a lot of strain on the system.  I'd bet we could convert maybe a quarter of all vehicles to electrics (given smart chargers with their current draw and time of operation remote controllable by the power company) before the present system fell over.

Many families are multi-car and even now, when gas prices are high, they are chosing the higher mileage cars for longer or more fuel-consuming trips. If the pickup is only brought out a few times a year for camping or boat towing while a fuel efficient hybrid is the family workhorse, a major impact will be seen long before the entire fleet turns over.
Several years ago, the utilities commissioned studies on the ability of the grid to supply power for plug in vehicles. The projections suggested that large increases in generating capacity wouldn't be necessary since most charging would occur during offpeak hours. The utilities love the prospect of an application that allows 'em to load level--load leveling is the holy grail of the power business--but nobody seems very optimistic about a major increase in the use of plug-in vehicles in the near or middle term.
EV World has begun a series of articles that is relevant to this thread:

A lot of people fret about what will happen to the electric power grid when there are millions of electric drive vehicles - battery, plug-in hybrids, both flexible fuel and fuel cell - trying to be recharged at the same time. Early studies indicate there is currently sufficient overnight capacity for a million or more EVs before additional capacity has to be built.

However, it now appears that, in fact, all those electric cars may actually reduce the need for additional capacity or at least slow its growth. That sounds counter-intuitive, especially if all those electric vehicles just take power from the grid. However, if instead they can return power to the grid some surprising things start to happen as will be pointed out in this three-part series on V2G or vehicle-to-grid systems.

One problem with re-charging hybrid-EV batteries, they are programmed to be recharged by the gas engine in the hybrid, so the batteries are fully charged when you put the car in the garage.  You could have a manual over-ride, but who would want to ride around in a hybrid with very little juice in the battery?
I've got a couple other stories not above....

From the BBC declaring we need a 20 fold increase in nuclear generating plants.


Also, here's a look at the seriousness of the housing slowdown.


Lastly over at Financial Sense, theres a PO article combined with some investing advice, mostly centered on buying precious metals on dips.


Adding to bank's problems (besides the housing problems) is a change coming in the FDIC reserve requirements for banks. You can't get to this article without an expensive subscription, so I'll quote some of it.

U.S. Banks Are Anxious Over FDIC's New Reserve Requirements

WASHINGTON October 18 (BestWire) -- In February, President Bush signed into law the Deposit Insurance Reform Act, widely viewed in the banking sector as the most significant reform in the deposit insurance system in decades. The law raised the limit on deposit insurance for retirement accounts and revamped the country's deposit insurance system.

Some of its provisions took effect in March, such as raising the limit on deposit insurance for retirement accounts to $250,000 from $100,000, and indexing that amount to inflation for future years. The law also merged into a single fund the two deposit insurance funds that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. had been administering separately since the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

Next month, however, the FDIC's board is set to decide on the designated reserve ratio for the Deposit Insurance Fund, one of the factors that ultimately will determine how much the country's banking institutions pay in deposit insurance premiums in 2007 and beyond. Since 1996, about 95% of the country's insured depository institutions were in a regulatory category that meant they paid no deposit insurance premiums at all; the Deposit Insurance Reform Act, however, means all FDIC-insured banks will pay some deposit insurance, with premiums for the best-capitalized and least-risky banks likely ranging from two to four basis points -- or 0.02% to 0.04% -- for every $100 of their deposits. The FDIC has yet to decide on that figure (BestWire, Oct. 16, 2006).

Under the reform act, the FDIC also must set the deposit insurance fund's designated reserve ratio within a range of 1.15% to 1.5% of estimated insured deposits. At the same time, the FDIC must consider economic conditions in the banking sector, as well as the risk of losses to the deposit insurance fund when setting the reserve ratio from year to year. The FDIC also must consider the effect of steep changes in banks' assessment rates; changes to the designated reserve ratio, or DRR, have to be made by regulation; and banks have to be given an opportunity to comment via the rulemaking process.

At issue now are assessments for next year, the first year they will take effect under the new law. The FDIC has proposed setting the DRR at 1.25% and is due to issue a final rule at its Nov. 2 board meeting. Many banks, however, feel that ratio is too high and will present too much of a shock to the banking system.

Of course, even with the change, if there are very high loan defaults, the funds set aside by the FDIC system will cover only a tiny share of the shortfall. The FDIC funding is set up to handle the default of a few individual banks, not to fully handle the issues associated with very high loan defaults affecting many banks at once. If very high defaults would happen, the federal government would have to step in and support the system in some way - use tax revenue to make good on the bank shortfalls, or just "print money".

"Some of its provisions took effect in March, such as raising the limit on deposit insurance for retirement accounts to $250,000 from $100,000, and indexing that amount to inflation for future years. "

This suggests to me The Fed et. al. took a gander into the crystal ball and said, " Hyperinflation it is then...".  So Dow 36,000 is a very real possibility.

Our Fiat Dollar standard was fine during the growth phase when the promi'sorry' notes were issued and the promise easily kept.  Now a currency linked to a Tangible - or a country (county ??) capable of producing tangibles - will take over from here for a while.

I recall discussing this in a money banking theory class last semester.  I knew the limits were being raised and for all intents and purposes there is a near 0% reserve requirement on demand deposit accounts.  Lifting this to a platy percent or two will serve to suck a tiny fraction of the credit in the system. In my mind next year is THE year for lots of things.  From PO, to dollar depreciation, to housing tanking and the the bear market for the NYSE.  Thinking about all that makes graduating seem moot.

A friend and I were talking on Tuesday about college. He went but didn't graduate. I went and graduated, but did not need loans. We both have young kids and discussed whether or not we would encourage them to attend college. I said I would discourage my kids, and he agreed.

For one, I doubt I will be able to afford covering the costs of college. If they need loans to get through school they're going to be huge loans that will mean, in essence, indentured servitude.

Also, I don't believe the skills they would learn would be worth the money. I believe that as we slide down the other side of the peak, economies of the world are going to need people with skills in the trades. Intensive knowledge in academic areas will not be as important as is now perceived. In fact, I believe we will see more apprenticeships (where youngsters assist skilled workers) replace paid schooling.

I believe in many cases college, and perhaps high school to some degree, is an extension of adolescence. In many fields of employment these days (white collar or blue collar), the real necessary skills are learned by doing the job. Diplomas are a way of distinguishing the classes (castes). Those with diplomas and degrees are welcomed into the club of decent paying jobs. Those without diplomas and degrees are kept in their place of poverty.

Tom A-B

You're right I believe.  I'm in a transition point in the education system.  College funding has been slashed from Bushy, and tuition has went up roughly 40% in my time at the University.  That's not even including fees.  Books seem to be stable and by that I mean overpriced.  

I've got some regrets about the way I did it, namely instead of skipping for half of my senior year(work study b/c I had too many credits) I should have loaded up college courses, but I wanted to relax for my senior year.

I wonder about the CoBe Analysis for the payoff for my education, but once you start you should finish since you'll at least have the piece of paper for the payment you'll be making anyway. I fully believe trades will be future and apprenticeships seem much more financially equitable.  I've talked to several recruiters and they flat told me they wont look at me b/c I don't have the piece of paper.  All that's left is electives.  Their loss.

I get a kick out of people when they tell me in an interview that I don't have the particular program training.  My reponse is more to do with they will have to train whoever they choose as to how they want it done, so I'm at no disadvantage due to my incredible ability to learn new programs (which is true).  Still haven't found a job though, so maybe I should change my reponse.

The article from today's (10/19) Drum Beat - "An Oil Habit America Cannot Break" had some pretty powerful statements. Such as:

...We're still enthralled by energy "independence" even though--as a new report from the Council on Foreign Relations makes clear--it's impossible for "at least several decades." In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced Project Independence, which was to eliminate oil imports by 1980. In 1973, the United States had net oil imports of 6 million barrels a day, 35 percent of our consumption. In 2006, net imports average 12.4 million barrels a day, or 60 percent of use. Nixon's advisers warned him that his goal was unattainable. In the foreseeable future, it still is. Anyone suggesting otherwise is misinformed or dishonest.

...No plausible combination of alternative fuels or "conservation" can soon substitute for all that imported oil. Even if that weren't true, many other countries--most of the world economy to which we are tightly tied--would remain dependent on oil imports. So we'd be hostage indirectly.

...Because Americans want painless salvation, our politicians proffer visions that promise just that: a shift to hydrogen fuel or a surge in ethanol. The first may be futuristic wishful thinking; the second is mainly a costly giveaway to farmers. Both are deceptions, new excuses not to do the "right thing."

Pretty amazing from the mainstream media. Check it out at:

Greg in MO

He made some ridiculous statments too, unfortunately, such as:

The problem is not that the world will soon run out of oil. Global oil use now totals 31 billion barrels annually. Proven oil reserves are about 1.3 trillion barrels, reports Oil & Gas Journal. That's 42 years of supply at present consumption rates. Yes, consumption is rising--but more oil will be found. Even when it's all gone, other hydrocarbon deposits can be, at higher prices, converted into oil. John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil, claims that the oil shale in Colorado amounts to another 1 trillion barrels and that Canada's oil sands total 1.3 trillion barrels. Indeed, the oil sands are already producing.
It fills me with sadness to say so. But TOD has taught me that the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Is that the pessimist has all the numbers on his side, and that the optimist's hope for the future gets bigger the less he knows about basic science and math.
LOL. I love it! I'll have to save that one.
Great Reasons to Attend
The 2006 World Oil Conference in Boston

1. Randy Udall Invites You & Daniel Yergin to Lunch. (We hope Dan will R.S.V.P. Soon!)
Along with three days of new Peak Oil findings, you'll get two evening receptions, breakfast sessions, and lunch presentations. At Friday's lunch, you'll hear Randy Udall introduce Pollyanna to Peak Oil. He'll discuss Daniel Yergin's CERA Report, the fuzzy figures from EIA and IEA, and the hype on `Gushers in the Gulf.' We've invited Mr. Yergin to share the stage, explain his CERA Report, and take Q & A from the floor. Dan can bring a guest of his own, hopefully his colleague Robert Esser, who recently told Business Week, "Peak Oil theory is garbage as far as we're concerned." CERA's office is near the Conference site, so we'll pick them up in a comfortable hybrid, and pick up the lunch tab too. We hope they'll accept our invitation.
2. Get the new 2006 Oil & Gas Depletion Updates from International Experts
Matthew Simmons will introduce us to "The 51st State - Denial." Matt is Chair of Simmons & Co., Int'l, Chair of the ASPO-USA Advisory Board, and author of the best-selling, "Twilight in the Desert." Jeremy Gilbert, former BP Production Chief, has come from Ireland to ask & answer the question, "Reserves - What Are They?"; Mike Rodgers will present PFC Energy's new Production & Peak Oil Update, the first 5-year study since the company's 2001 Report; and David Hughes from the Canadian Geological Survey will discuss the peaking of N. America's Natural Gas Supply. (We think they'll have some questions for Mr. Yergin.)

I was surprised to hear an ad for the conference on NPR.  They kept calling the conference as being hosted by "Asspoe" which took me a second to figure out was A.S.P.O.
Convoluted Logic

I heard, yesterday on CNBC, one guest analysist make this comment:

If OPEC cuts production by one million barrels, this will mean that there is one million barrels of extra spare capacity out there. Therefore this should bring the price of oil down.

Well hell, that's one way to spin it.

Ron Patterson

Sorry, that should have been guest "analysts". I forgot to use my spell checker on that one. I am a very bad speller but I do hope people will overlook that fact.

Ron Patterson

Something happened in College.  My vocabulary increased at the expense of my ability to spell.  Weird.
I blame it on the "Aerobic Writing" of note taking from my professors who babbled at the speed of light - chaulk dust flying all the way.

Darwinian - maybe that isn't "spin" ??  Maybe that analcyst (sp?) really thinks like that ???  That might explain the situation we're in currently.

About that chalk.  For most of my high school and even 2 yrs at a community college, there were white boards everywhere.  I get to this nice 4 yr university to find them stuck in the past with chalk.  Only good thing is most of my classrooms have a computer so most of my biz proff just use that.  I can honestly say I can whip some ass on Excel now.
Are you sure the aromatic hydrocarbons leaking from the markers for the "white boards" are better for you than chaulk dust?
I dont know, but I always did get head aches in high school.  Never thought about that. Damn.
The debate here in Singapore is whether the extraordinarily high incidence of myopia among schoolchildren is caused by the use of white boards. One study claimed that the kids tend to strain their eyes a lot to see the writings on a white board which is very reflective compared to a black board.

It may have some truth. Having been used to blackboards in India during my school and college days, I find it very tiring for the eyes even in short meetings in the office where we use white boards.

Insightful.  Never even stopped to think about the reflection.  Makes a lot of sense, but it wasn't to bad in math since nearly the entire board was black, blue, & red.
They always tell you that reading doesn't cause myopia.  But myopia skyrockets in cultures that become literate, suggesting that there is a connection.  

There's also a connection between having lights on at night and myopia.  

Given those two factors...I wouldn't be surprised if computers were the culprit, if today's kids are more myopic than their parents.  It's a double whammy: more reading, and looking at their computer screens at night, and/or in a darkened room.

"Analcyst" ROTFLMAO!
That's brilliant!  Why not just cut production by 20 million barrels, then we can save twenty times as much! Yay!

But what is the use of 1 mbd spare capacity if you can't pump the oil fast enough to utilize it?

Actually, when you cut through the BS your doomerism has caused, you would come to the logical conclusion that there is indeed 1 million bpd 'spare capacity' on the market...in the form of NON-OPEC oil supply increases!  In 2007, non OPEC production was expected to increase by 1.1 of the 1.7 million bpd we would need next year, and was supposed to have a net net gain of 1 million bpd this year.  Sounds like its right on target to me.
Hey Hothgor - would it be possible for you to make just one post here without insulting people you disagree with?  There are ways to disguise your contempt for those of us who are concerned about the future for very good scientific reasons.  
Well...that's not really his job.  I'm starting to think Hothgor is a "plant" to create a stir here at TOD.  What say you Hotair...oops...sorry...Hothgor?
Which, if true, is really quite a compliment.  TOD attracting enough attention to warrant a "plant".  It would mean that someone sees TOD as a threat to what's truley happening in the world.
Can you honestly be that deluded? :P
I don't think Hothgor is a plant, but he is clearly in over his head.

His rather pathetic personal attacks on people he disagrees with, are a rather obvious attempt to hide the fact, that he lacks the skills needed to discredit the methods and numbers, they use to arrive at their results.

So what about it Hothgor. I challenge you to post a response to this post where you show why the peak isn't now.

But of course you can't do that, since you undoubtedly lack the education needed to pop a pimple.

Go take a look at what I posted above about the energy required to power a fleet of EVs :P
I suggest ignoring the troll.
sounds good to me.
Again,  I would suggest reviewing these.


Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation

 1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil
 2. Become incredulous and indignant
 3. Create rumor mongers
 4. Use a straw man
 5. Sidetrack opponents w name calling, ridicule
 6. Hit and Run
 7. Question motives
 8. Invoke authority
 9. Play Dumb

  1. Associate opponent charges with old news
  2. Establish and rely upon fall-back positions
  3. Enigmas have no solution
  4. Alice in Wonderland Logic
  5. Demand complete solutions
  6. Fit the facts to alternate conclusions
  7. Vanish evidence and witnesses
  8. Change the subject
  9. Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad  
  10. Ignore facts, demand impossible proofs
  11. False evidence
  12. Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor
  13. Manufacture a new truth
  14. Create bigger distractions
  15. Silence critics
  16. Vanish

Goto the link for examples and better definitions/Explanations.

There are pro trolls.  He may not be one, but they do use the tech. above.

Maybe he's one of those oil analcysts that Sendoilplease mentioned?
# 26. Calling people you disagree with trolls.
Thanks Jack.
But, opec is pumping 2mmb/d over their quota, and world produciton is flat... True, non opec production was supposed to produce 1mmb/d more according to chris' mega projects, but world produciton is around 1mmb/d less than he predicted for this year... and, he predicts production will rise an equal amount next year... apparently, he is significantly under predicting existing field declines.
Well, then, let's cut production by several billion barrels. Maybe then we could get our oil for free.
Yeah, I heard that on Bloomberg too.  Even well known oil analysts are overwhelming negative about the prospects for the price of oil - including some who previously were positive about the price when it was $75.  

The thinking goes something like this, GDP growth next year will slow, meaning there will be less demand.  Supply is almost automatically presumed to continue at present levels or grow.  This ignores two very obvious points - why should an increase in GDP result in a decrease in demand (especially with lower energy prices) and why isn't depletion of supply from older reservoirs ever mentioned?

Charles: Good points. Also, China is the most important consumer and they are increasing GDP at a 10% clip.
Darwinian: Yep. If they cut by 27.6 million, crude will be free (do the math).
this "expert" is basing his opinion on the law of sparecapacity/demand
I subscribe to an energy newsletter that says the same dumb thing.  Imagine cutting 400mmb over the next year... oecd stocks would be devastated unless, of course, somebody else is going to produce some extra oil.  What is missing from the logic is that spare capacity is, indeed, good, but not as good at lower ing price as more oil.
Dear all
Meanwhile, today the EU has decided to save 20% of the present energy use by 2020 by applying some 75 energy efficiency measures in the coming years, also known as conservation.  :-)

and this
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/06/387&format=HTML&aged=0&l anguage=EN&guiLanguage=en


Army Corps proposes easing Gulf wetlands rule

Anger greets plan to let developers skip permits to speed Katrina recovery

Federal wetlands regulators have dropped a bombshell on environmentalists with a little-publicized proposal to relax restrictions on filling in certain wetlands along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast to speed recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

"It's unethical, illegal, immoral, unsustainable and they're simply doing it to make the fat cats richer faster," said Derrick Evans, executive director of a Gulfport, Miss., community group that plans to fight the proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps' proposal would allow property owners and developers to skirt the conventional "regional general permit" process for any projects that fill up to 5 acres of "low-quality" wetlands in the six southernmost Mississippi counties. Especially galling to environmentalists: The new process would also eliminate the requirement for public notice of such projects.

Gee, looks like they've got a great feedback loop going here.  Loss of wetlands increases hurricane damage.  Hurricane damage encourages politicians to allow more wetlands to be destroyed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

I thought that one of the reasons they got in trouble in the first place was because they filled in all those wetlands.
Remember what I said about working for the EPA and how good/solid research can just be tossed aside for policy...there you have it in action.  
"Burning of Indonesian forests is causing widespread pollution. But it's done to grow crops for environment-friendly -- and lucrative -- biofuels."

WTF??? Putting this as the headline is the Iron Triangle at its best, for gods' sake!!

Apart from the air pollution(which is the focus of the environmental guy in the article), how environmental friendly is destroying rainforests, extincting urang-utangs and probably several other species and certainly destroying bio-diversity along the way? To replace it with monoculture?

What is more important, rainforest or this http://www.orangutans-sos.org/gallery/source/images/palmplant.jpg   for our thirsty energy habbits?

That's a really funny spin. But people will take it, granted.
Cough, cough ... greetings from Singapore. Am happy to report that for the past two weeks we have been contributing to the noble goal of carbon sequestration actively by inhaling in vast amounts of said substance blowing across the seas from Sumatra and Borneo.

The measure for the amount of smoke is PSI (Pollutants Standard Index), which is considered unhealthy if it is above the figure of 100. It hit 130 last weekend. It was 102 today morning. I don't know how they calculate this, but a visibility of less than a kilometre is something to chew on.

As usual, some wisecrack here has come out with a new expansion for the acronym PSI - Please Stop Indonesia. Meanwhile, we have no choice but be the largest single group of "second smokers". Ah, such warm-hearted neighbours!

Re: Gas Prices and Driving
Maybe it's just me, but it sure seems that when gas prices are going up, the media proclaims (lauds?) that it's not keeping us from driving. But now, lower prices are giving us the urge to go out and drive?

For short-term variations in demand, what other drivers (sorry) are there? Weather, certainly (not necessarily hurricanes). But most usage patterns are set by long-term decisions, such as what car to drive and where to live and work. Do the ranks of carpoolers swell and contract with gas prices? This should show up in traffic congestion data.

Or maybe it's just the media's way of singing "Happy Days Are Here Again...".

I think what that article shows is that growth is the norm for our economy.  High prices didn't reduce driving, but they kept it from increasing as much as it would have otherwise.  (Sorta like Congress "cuts spending" by decreasing future increases.)

Think about it.  Our population is growing.  We need 100,000-200,000 new jobs a month, just to keep all the new people coming into the job market employed.  Most of those people will need to drive to work.

People did cut back when gas prices were high. Some may have carpooled or taken public transportation to work, but I suspect most cut back on other driving.  No cruising the streets at night for teens.  Fewer weekend road trips for college students.  Going to a restaurant that's closer to home, even though you prefer one that's farther away.  Shorter family vacations.  Consolidation of errands.  

Wal-Mart said there was a drop in the number of visits to their stores, and they blamed high gas prices.

Same thing occurred to me. In the U.S. the demand for fuel is extremely inelastic.  Isn't it true that the higher prices we experienced just dampened the increase in consumption a bit but did not cause a decrease?  I could be wrong, so I'm sure that someone out there will correct me.  If true, this September increase could just be a reversion to the mean.

Slightly off topic, but I heard my first political debate last night wherein the candidates were actually asked what they would do about global warming. Despite all the hoopla over Gore's movie, all we mostly hear is bla bla bla about Iraq, terrorism, and how horrible each candidate is.  Of course, the responses were completely superficial. Increase mileage standards and renewable energy magic bullets.

Sweet mother of God...

No fish will ever swim in this fjord. Ever.

Russia marks the centenary of its submarine fleet this week - but one part of its legacy is no cause for celebration.

For almost half a century, the Northern Fleet has operated two-thirds of the navy's nuclear-powered vessels.

Much of the spent fuel from these vessels has been dumped directly into the Barents and Kara seas, with the remainder placed in vastly inadequate storage.

About halfway between Severomorsk and the Norwegian border lies Andreeva Bay, an environmental nightmare where the waters are completely devoid of life. Leaks from the region's largest nuclear waste storage facility mean no fish will ever swim in this fjord. Onshore, both the soil and the groundwater are badly contaminated.

On this vast site, 32 tons of highly radioactive waste with a high uranium content is stored in crumbling concrete bunkers and rusting tanks and containers - about a third of the nuclear waste mountain that can be found on the Kola Peninsula.
Most of it is spent fuel from the Northern Fleet's nuclear powered submarines, some from nuclear powered ice breakers.

"The amount of radioactivity is equivalent to 93 submarine reactors, or comparable with Chernobyl."

Sweet mother of God...  (... also known as Mother Nature ?)

Maybe Lamarkianism lives on in Russia?  

Wildlife defies Chernobyl radiation  
By Stephen Mulvey
BBC News  

It contains some of the most contaminated land in the world, yet it has become a haven for wildlife - a nature reserve in all but name.

Przewalski's horses are breeding in the zone (Picture: Sergey Gaschak)

The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life.

As humans were evacuated from the area 20 years ago, animals moved in. Existing populations multiplied and species not seen for decades, such as the lynx and eagle owl, began to return...



See if you can find any recent information on Mayak (near Cheliabinsk in Russia) - it's the most radioactively contaminated place on the face of the Earth. They used to throw high level nuclear waste into the nearest river there. Somewhere I have a report about it written by a Norwegian taskforce in the late 1990s. I'll try and dig it out, but there might be some more up-to-date information available on the web by now.

In Earth Odyssey, the author went there just after the fall of the Soviet Union to investigate Mayak, and devotes most of a chapter to it  - he calls it the worse nuclear catastrophe since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The US had its analogue, Hanford, but it wasn't nearly as thorough with distributing the waste to the populace and keeping them completely in the dark - literally swimming in the lake they were dumping large quantities of waste in for decades.  They mention 100x the amount of radioactivity as Chernobyl's sarcophagus.  The whole town of Cheylabinsk is contaminated with various heavy industrial wastes, as apparently the military was given free reign to pollute all it wanted.

You'll note that I've defended breeder reactors by mentioning the BN-600 fast neutron reactor there.  That's because Mayak is entirely caused by human negligence.

Open Suggestion to TOD
 RE: "Advice to the Next President"

I would like to suggest that TOD open up another thread, namely "Advice to the Next President."

Fast forward to March of 2008, where the new president and the new Congress, dealing with the hangover of defeat in Iraq, are contemplating what to do about Peak Oil and the problems associated with our energy dependence on the Middle East.

What would you recommend to the new President and Congress? Should government stand back and leave it to the markets? Should the next President use his bully pulpit to encourage change, or should the government get more actively involved? Should the government and big business launch a Manhattan Project? And if they did the latter, what should it look like?  

Prospective Presidential candidates are mulling over these issues now, and as the next campaign seasons starts up, their ideas will be broadcast across the country. This could be our chance to influence that debate.  

So TOD, whad'ya say?

All the billions we spend on highways each year should go to trains.
Soft Policy Steps - Make it patriotic to save energy of all types, but especially oil.

Encourage cities to encourage bicycling.  Zoning changes for higher density near transit.

Hard policy steps - Severely limit federal aid for new highways (perhaps some for busways, HOV lanes, but even these are not top priority)

FTA matching funds of 90% for new Urban Rail (same as Interstate Highways)

Higher gas prices phased in.  Some offset with payroll taxes.

Carbon taxes also phased in, some offset to other taxes.

Incentives for solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps (air source heat pumps in Deep South), insulation, better windows.

Raise CAFE steeply

Federal standards are energy efficiency in new construction (see Sweden).  13.5 SEER minimum for new a/c.  Higher appliance standards.

Any railroad that electrifies is exempt from property taxes.  Any local taxing jurisidction that loses more than 1% of it's tax base, gets compensated by feds for amount over 1% (phased out over 25 years).

No VA loans for new homes in sprawl (existing OK).  Federal mortgage companies add 0.5% risk premium for new sprawl homes, 0.25% for those 2 or more years old.

Off the top of my head,


Please run for president, Alan.
Implement a massive conservation program.
Number one on my list would be telecommuting mandatory where applicable.  Any job that can be performed remotely (from home) should be mandatory.


  • Less commuting - major fuel savings
  • More money in our pockets due to fuel savings (I recently started working from home.  I save about $200/mo due to the absence of my 2 hr commute each day.
  • Less electricity used? (more energy draw at home however surely less than energy required in a cube farm-office that has open space to heat/cool)
  • Lower liability to companies
  • Lower auto insurance
  • Lower emissions
  • and so on...

    My .02


  • Any job that can be performed remotely (from home) should be mandatory.

    What if you walk to work most days, and take electric Urban Rail on nasty days ?  Like a married couple nearby that work in 51 story One Shell Square ?  And if their 950 sq ft home (one child) does not have room for two home offices ?

    Being together 24 hours/day is not good for some marriages.

    You assume that everyone drives a long way to work.  Ain't true for a lot (not enough) people.

    Best Hopes,


    You assume that everyone drives a long way to work. Ain't true for a lot (not enough) people.

    I do not assume that everyone drives a long way to work.  I was merely adding my thoughts on ways we can improve the situation and conserve.  And you missed the part where I said "where applicable."    

    Just a few tidbits from Here

    In 2000:

  • Nearly 76 percent of Americans drove alone to work.
  • Less than 5% commute by Mass transit
  • 3% work from home

    Maybe mandatory is the wrong word, but "strongly encourage" telecommuting with some sort of incentive to those that partake?

    I lived in the Chicago Suburbs for 13 years and 48 miles from my office.  My job (IT) would not allow me to take the train as I kept odd hours.  So, I would get up at 4:30 am just to avoid sitting in traffic for 2 hrs.  It would still take me about 1:20 minutes to get to work in the morning and of course I could not avoid the 2 hr commute home every day.  Again, I know that's not for everyone but what if we could get to say 20% work from home?  


  • Advice to Jim Burke

    1. Find out who becomes US President, how, and why
    2. Realize that (s)he has no mind of his/her own
    3. Stop fooling yourself
    4. Use your time more productively

    Easy there roel.

    I liked Jim's post. Its not often positive thinking is encouraged here on TOD.

    It feels good to exercise some unused muscles every once in a while.

    Seems to me that there is a fine line between "positive thinking" and a lack of understanding of how the world works.

    I often get involved in discussions where we solve all the worlds problems. Funny thing is that we wake up the next morning and those problems are all still there. Understanding why that is so is essential in understanding the difference between being an optimist and being a pollyanna.

    1. larger incentives for solar and wind home systems. germany is installing solar like crazy...something like 50% of the worlds solar pv is being installed there because of government incentives.

    2. encourage bike usage by making it safer... a big problem with bikes is the danger cars represent. make certain streets one way, one lane for cars, with the other lane for bikes. bike usage would soar.
    Thanks, Steverino for #2!
    Like my above post, a great priority is that we need to work at the city-planning level to make bikes, small mopeds, electric bikes, and scooters, even tiny electric cars safe in the street.  That means designated streets for small vehicles.  If PO is coming at us faster than we can get ready for it, (and TPTB don't build electric rail in every city across the country fast enough), the only way to continue transportation to and from work affordably, yet retaining the luxury of keeping one's own schedule by being one to a vehicle for that commute, is designated streets for those vehicles.  The beauty of it would be that the infrastructure (streets) is already there, and that the idea could be applied to any size city or town (as opposed to other mass transit).  I know, some people are already commuting this way (and that number is growing) but many more would if they felt safe. Since the local level seems to be the only level at which something can be accomplished currently to prepare for PO, this is also doable.

    And, BTW, I very much agree with #1 as well.

    This is an old story, but captures viscerally the dangers of cycling:


    BTW, I'm a bicycle commuter. I just read this stuff to motivate myself to stay alert.

    I like this idea, but how would one accomodate the objection that passing would not be possible. Or do we allow passing using the bike lane (which, of course, would be dangerous).  

    Perhaps we just implement this idea on residential streets, which usually have less traffic, anyway.  Combine this with speed bumps and traffic circles and perhaps the autos would be going so slow that passing would be unnecceary.  Retain two way or two lane auto traffic for the busier through streets, but provide for separate elevated bicycle lanes for those streets.

    I have some experience riding a bike in Boulder, Colorado and find it quite easy to get around and reach any destination I choose.  Boulder combines dedicated bike lanes, elevated lanes on sidewalks, and painted lanes on existing streets. For major , busy roads, the last approach is the most problematical as cars can easily swerve into your lane.  The painted in lanes on residential streets work better, of course, because there is far less traffic.

    Despite Boulder's relatively superior approach to accomodating the bicyle, there is still a massive and growing amount of auto traffic. Most people won't get out of their cars regardless of how convenient you make alternatives like bicycling.

    The city fathers should just tell people that if you don't like the traffic now, wait until next year and the year after that. It is just going to get worse because we don't plan to make it easier for you. People need to know that things will get worse, not better.  Gridlock should be encouraged, not improved by building more lanes or more roads.

    Ultimately, cars should be something that you park outside the city's boundaries and/or restrict to residents.  

    tstreet--I would keep bike paths nonmotorized bike paths as I think that would be important.  I would convert certain streets to the small mopeds, etc, or parts of them as you described.  Maybe there could be a weight limit and lower speed limit, like 25 mph.  And passing would be allowed.  The most progressive of cities would do this first, which once again, would make those same cities more desireable places to live.  If I brought this up at my city council right now I'd be laughed at, because the current complaints are always about traffic flow and congestion problems for the almighty auto.  But they can't think beyond that to see that this would help to solve that problem.  A mandate to provide a certain % of routes per 100,000 of population might be a good idea.  It certainly would help in our transition to powerdown, and rather painlessly at that.  It would save gas, and jobs, and maybe even keep the Starbucks open.  I have biked in Boulder and it is a dream city to bike around in.  The city planners there are unbelievable, yet I know it is an involved process and has its own set of problems.
    It hard to tell from here whether these people are deluded or disingenuous, but it should be clear that a 100-year plan to arrest global warming has no use whatsoever (other than procrastination).

    Not when science gives us a 10-year window before feedbacks will kick in and provide for runaway change. They can complain all they want that it's so hard to make changes, fact is there is no alternative: either do it now, and drastically, or stop talking about it already.

    A point like this:
    * No rich country shall have to go through disruptive change.
    can be answered with a resounding: OH YES IT DOES!! All rich countries will go through disruptive change in the next 100 years.

    Either we do it or it happens to us.

    There is a nice irony in the fact that now we are faced with the short term framework that we, and especially our politicians, understand, and all we manage to come up with are long term "solutions".

    A 100-year plan is just a different way of saying: we give up.

    Vattenfall Proposes Global 100-Year Climate Stabilization Framework

    The guiding principles of Vattenfall's proposed global GHG allocation and reduction framework are as follows:

    • All countries should participate: participation is a part of being a member of the global community.
    • No poor country shall be denied its right to economic development.
    • No extra cost burden on the poorest.
    • No rich country shall have to go through disruptive change.
    • Richer countries pull a larger weight: emission caps do not apply to countries until they have reached a certain economic level; poorer countries with caps get higher emissions allocations compared to richer countries
    • There must be a level playing field; the proposed framework shall not change relative competitiveness.
    • The system shall be robust; as new knowledge is accumulated, parameters may change, but not the principles underlying the system.
    • Emission caps should be binding.
    • Emission allowances are allocated to each country in relation to its share of gross global product (i.e. gross GDP) divided by population.
    • The final allocation to individual companies or facilities will be made at the national level.
    • The mechanism should be able to achieve wide acceptance as being fair and balanced.
    Roel you're spot on.  Very little will be done unless we become the world's bitch.  If Europe were in charge, (I giggled on that one), maybe they could force a cohesive strategy down our throats (and I said bitch in this paragraph).  Then again we know how easy it is to get Europe to agree, but one thing they (i think) seem to agree on is sustainability and climate change.  We're fucked.
    Looks like bees are affected by global warming too - Loss of Bees and Polinators Considered a Crisis

    Declining populations of honeybees and other pollinators represents a largely ignored crisis that threatens billions of dollars in farm output, the National Academy of Sciences warned Wednesday.

    In a 316-page report, the academy said long-term population trends of some bees, birds, bats and other animals and insects that spread pollen from flower to flower are "demonstrably downward."

    Honeybees play a necessary part in the production of crops with estimated value of up to $19 billion a year, said the academy's Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America.

    If we plant fruit trees, it looks like we will need to consider the polination issue in addition to the question of whether, because of climate change, it will be too hot and dry for the trees to produce fruit when the trees reach maturity.

    Australian farmers commit suicide as hope evaporates

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - One Australian farmer commits suicide every four days, defeated by the country's worst drought in 100 years which has left them with dust-bowl paddocks and a mountain of debt, says a national mental health body.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061019/wl_nm/australia_drought_suicide_dc;_ylt=Art3owXUOWBhpJqgdNEa3YZv aA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-

    World's pollution hotspots mapped

    "There are places where life expectancy approaches medieval rates, where birth defects are the norm not the exception, where children's asthma rates are measured above 90%, and where mental retardation is endemic."

    The book excerpt How Close Is Run - Away Climate Change? posted above talks about the CO2 ppm level - how much is too high.

    Before industrialization, the earth was at 280 ppm. We are now at 382ppm - higher than at any time in the past. Until recently, it was thought that 550ppm was the highest safe level. Now, it is thought that the safe level is 450ppm or even 400ppm. The article mentions that there is a time lag, so that the level we are seeing now represents the changes from the 1970s.

    It seems to me that we are very close to run-away climate change. This is really scary - it is hard to see how we can get CO2 level down, or even stabilize it, given the long time lag underlying the CO2 changes, the magnitude of what would need to be done (no cars or industrialization?), and the unwillingness of people to change. I am wondering, too, whether even 400ppm is safe, given that the ice core studies have shown that the current level is outside of the range seen in all of past history - and there have been some pretty hot periods in the past.  

    Hi Gail,

    The idea that the effects of CO2 on global warming are delayed makes me wonder if this is a mechanism that Gaia has utilized to "lull" offenders into a sense of complacency until it is too late for the offenders to do anything but become extinct. Think of it as a global immune system tactic to kill off a threatening virus.

    In any case, Mother Nature bats last.

    Tom A-B

    Wow our education system is grand!  Last night I was in my Econ Stat class and my proff decided to bring up the whole 300M person in the USA BS.  She talked it up and at the end said, "Then there is the doom club talking about the end to all resources like oil, coal etc."   She brought up Malthus and derided him since he made his observaton way back in the 1700's or 17th century I can't remember. I've held my tongue in this class up until this point but she mentioned oil and I took the bait and ran away.

    I raised my hand and said, "would you agree that the world we live in has finite limits, particulary resources?"  You know, she almost couldnt say yes. She sat there for about 10 secs thinking about it and said, "well, yeah I guess."  I knew this wasn't going to go well, but felt like I already started this and maybe my peers might get something out of it.  I then asked if she has ever seen the hockey stick graph of the world population.  She said she vaguely remember it, so I walked up on drew it on the board for all to see.

    Most of the students were stunned.  I could tell by their faces.  These are almost all econ students. I could tell she was getting aggravated so I ended it with, "you can't always expect increasing growth when you ultimately are constrained by the limits of nature that science can not alter.  Whether that's now or a hundred years from now, there will be an end."  She got the last word, spoken like a true ivory tower professor, "Well that will be after my lifetime so my grandkids will have to worry about it."  



    This just goes to show that we can't count on our enlightened academics to solve our problems. I agree with your succinct conclusion above about our civilization's prospects.

    Tom A-B

    Economists, and anyone else who would make a statement like this:

    "Well that will be after my lifetime so my grandkids will have to worry about it."

    should be shot.

    And her grandchildren will agree with me.
    If they ever live at all.

    I thought to myself, poor kids.  
    Everytime I bring it up my grandchildren want to shoot me. They just flat don't want to hear about it.

    Ron Patterson

    She [an Econ Statistics professor] got the last word, spoken like a true ivory tower professor, "Well that will be after my lifetime so my grandkids will have to worry about it."

    Here is evidence that essentially all human beings are irrational and self-centered.

    The mere fact that this person holds the title of "professor" (or college teacher, or whatever) does not immunize her from being irrational and reliant on deep denial and other flights of fantasy.

    What is more amazing is that this person is a "statistics" teacher, meaning she should know about math (including exponential functions) and she should know about making "sampled" observations of real world phenomenon (like our Uncle Hubbert did) and she should know how to filter random noise out from her conclusions (like our logistics curve fitters do here at TOD). And yet, with all that cerebral capbility, the final outcome is an emotional evisciration of all facts off of the table and a return to gracious grandmotherly instincts (if anyone's gonna die, it'll be the grand kids, hee ha ha ha).

    Gee, an old woman shoving young kids into the inferno. What does that remind you of?

    I cornered her after class and asked if she had 5 minutes.  I drew the curve on the board (funny too we are currently working with continues random variables and normal distributions) and explained the whole process of extracting to a point yada yada.  I told her about Hubbert making his prediction almost twenty years before and it happened mostly like he predicted.

    She shot back with well we're finding more and more on offshores drilling.  I said that's exactly the point I'm making.  We have to go into more dangerous, less secure areas to find more.  All the easy stuff is mostly gone and depleting around the world.  She said technology would find a way to increase production.  I was surprised as an economist she didnt fire off the substitution bullshit.  

    Somehow we got onto consumption and I told her it's increased roughly every year except the 70's.  Then she's like we reduced our usage then and we can do it again. I said you must keep in mind China and India.  She said no one is going to drive small cars here.  She basically walked out on me telling me that I shouldn't want higher taxes on gasoline to increase mass transit.  

    I came to the conclusion that many people really don't have an open mind to listen and once people are set in their ways/ideology there's little you can do to inform them since it scares the hell out of them.

    Whether it is based on religion, technology or just living a life with a silver spoon, optimism is an ingrained part of human nature.  Especially in a country that has not know real hardship for generations.

    It's a survival instinct that has proven to be quite useful, except for the times it proves to be really destructive.

    PDF warning.
    http://www.princeton.edu/~dominic/2006%20-%20Johnson%20et%20al.%20-%20Overconfidence%20and%20Wargame s.pdf

    She [the economics professor] shot back with well we're finding more and more on offshores drilling.  I said ... All the easy stuff is mostly gone and depleting around the world.  She said technology would find a way to increase production.

    Thanks for doing the extra-credit school work.

    What must be remembered is that this person is a SPECIALIST IN ECONOMICS.

    To truly understand Peak Oil and its implications, one needs a lot of specialized tutoring; the kind that folk like westexas, kehab, bubba, etc. have been kind enough to share with us here at TOD about how oil is formed and collected in subterrestrial trap zones. Your Econ teacher probably does not have a clue. Don't blame her. This is the beauty of Adam Smith's system! We are each a superb expert in our tiny pigeon hole area of specialization. We ASSUME that all holes are covered and everyone is taking care of his! Technology will provide. The market will provide. Human ingenuity will provide. Be happy, don't worry. LOL!

    Actually, the problem is probably that she is smart enough to have a clue, and pretty quickly realized where the argument was going and its consequences.  Most people will only consider disaster when they are immersed in it. My experience is that very few are willing to take po seriously because it is too scary... kind of like trying to persuade people that death is the end of the road.
    problem is probably that she is smart enough to have a clue,

    I have little doubt that the professor is "smart".
    She could probably eat me under the table with chi squared and sigma six analysis or what have you (in statistics).

    I'm not talking smart when I talk about not having a clue. I'm talking lack of knowledge. I'm talking about being ignorant when it comes to oil and all its technological aspects: geology, exploration, extraction and burn off.

    And quite realisticly, you can't fault the eco teacher for not knowing oil science. Nobody knows everything (with exception of sailorman of course).

    When you don't know, it's easy to assume that "they" will think of something. "They" will pull another magic rabbit out of the hat. "They" did it with Y2K and surely they can do a repeat performance with this technical something-or-other stuff.

    It's only if and when you "know", that PO starts to become a problem.

    Good try. Stay on her case.
    "Then there is the doom club talking about the end to all resources like oil, coal etc."   She brought up Malthus and derided him since he made his observaton way back in ...

    (1798) Essay on the Principle of Population

    Two resources that will not run out: hubiris and stupidity.

    It is amazing how many scholars still insist that Malthus was wrong. I'm not sure which ingenius one gets the ultimate Lemming-Insight Prize. You vote:

    Contestant #1: Software guy, last comment here:

    We have more oil today than in 1970 because humans invented the technology to extract it. We have fuel-efficient automobiles because human brains developed them. ... We can do it [overcome Malthus]. People are not a liability; people are an asset. We will learn to maximize ourselves, for we are our [best] resources.

    I get goosebumps just re-reading contestant number 1's entry. We are the world. We are the Universe. Wow.

    Contestant #2: A Neo-conic Neo-Malthusism here

    The result is that the world's oil reserves - which the Club of Rome warned would be exhausted by the mid 1990s - are actually greater than they were when that neo-Malthusian study was written in the1960s! What made the difference? Computers.
    Contestant #2= A chip (chimp?) off the old block. Moore's Law overcomes all obstacles. This is inspiring. Give this guy an exponentially growing round of applause.

    Contestant #3: A Resourceful One here

    Contestant #3= A champ off our  old block

    Contestant #4: Just another Economist here

    First, energy and other natural resources have become more abundant, not less so since the Club of Rome published "The Limits to Growth" in 1972. Second, more food is now produced per head of the world's population than at any time in history. Fewer people are starving. ... Add to that the fact that the price of solar energy has fallen by half in every decade for the past 30 years, and appears likely to continue to do so into the future, and energy shortages do not look like a serious threat either to the economy or to the environment.
    It's the Economy for Bonzo, stupid.

    Contestant #5: A Holey Roller here

       Aramco, said the world has the potential of 4.5 trillion barrels in reserves -- enough to power the globe at current levels of consumption for another 140 years." 140 years. Boy does that blow holes through the arguments of the Chicken Littles who want us to go solar or do ethanol.
    Contestant #5= Let's do ethanol for lunch, eh?
    I wonder if Malthus had "Dead Zones" in his day?
    Just another clue of how big we've become.
    Chavez's fate may rest in OPEC's hands: Venezuelan president desperately seeks production cut to drive up crude oil prices.

    This article (link above) points out that with the drop in price of oil -Chavez is in trouble at home - not as much free money to pass around - and he may be in trouble in the election in seven weeks.

    So maybe there was another way to get rid of Chavez after all - drive the oil price down and let the electorate boot hin out.

    TOD:Canada will be running a regular feature called The Round-Up which will be similar to the Drumbeat. The first Round-Up has been posted at the TOD:Canada site.
    Has anyone watched this?

    It's titled End of ze World and it's hilarious!  If you don't have speakers on you will need them!


    Yes.  All of us.  Post 'funny videos' on a 'funny videos' site where they can be ignored.
    If you actually took the time to watch it's got a funny perspective on the nuclear question you flippin ass.
    just been linked to it two or three too many times on unrelated forums.
    Sorry, I'm behind the curve on that one.
    Hello TODers,

    This link from Yahoo announces:
    LONDON (Reuters) - The complete evolutionary works of Charles Darwin have gone online, including the stolen notebook he carried in his pocket around the Galapagos Islands.

    Tens of thousands of pages of text and pictures and audio files have been made available, including some previously unpublished manuscripts and diaries of the great British scientist.

    Among the unique collection is the notebook used during the Beagle voyage which would later forge his scientific arguments. It was stolen in the 1980s, but Darwin's great-great-grandson hopes the publication online, thanks to a transcription from a microfilm copy made two decades earlier, will persuade whoever has it to return it.

    "It has huge importance for the history of science," Randal Keynes told the BBC.
    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


    Even though the official sentiment indicators show all time highs of optimism, you can smell the fear. Everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen. Eventually, something will. I am reminded of the following from the top of the 1920s stock market bubble.

    "As the Fall begins there is a tenseness in Wall Street. Its presence is undeniable. There is a general feeling that something is going to happen during the present season. Just what it will be, when it will happen or what will cause it is anybody's guess."

    Business Week, Sept. 7, 1929 (Four days after the final top)

    It's worth noting that the whole pattern the stock market has been following recently bears any eerie resembelance to that of 1929.
    can someone tell me how to upload pictures or graphs? thanks.
    join photobucket.com or another such image sharing group (flicker), then use the IMG command to link to your album site
    Yesterday's link to the Energy Bulletin post of Richard Heinberg's post was most excellent.

    I grew up reading Architectural Digest.  Planning my garden around the foods we ate and the things me, and my dad built to keep the garden running smoothly.  My father is a craftsman.  He grew up working with his hands.  All over this house I see his work, used in day to day life, practical things, pretty things.  I see some of my artwork, my mom likes to collect it, other people have it in use, and I am sure a lot of it has passed into the ether.  I have made things with my limited skills in wood, and I am trying to learn more of the hands-on knowledge that my dad has locked away in the calluses of his hands.
    We work well together it is something that I am always glad of, especially considering all my friends who in college who thought my dad was a GURU of some sort in the mechanical world.  His place of work Knows he is.

    Shaker designs especially in furniture are some of the greatest works of wood crafting known to man.  IMHO.  Wood held together with wood.  Some people have taken years to train under the current masters of the style, to make things as good as the original Shakers.  I wish I knew more, I guess it's time to ask dad another set ofquestions.    

    Apparently, in post-Katrina New Orleans the inmates truly are running the asylum...

    Army Corps proposes easing Gulf wetlands rule

    I guess as far as the USACE is concerned August 2005 has been completely flushed down the memory hole.


    The Krewe du Vieux had an unusual throw last Mardi Gras; condoms manufactured by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Their most distinctive feature was a large hole punched out of the tip :-)

    Their theme this coming Mardi Gras is "Habitat for Insanity".

    Best Hopes,


    Sorry if this has been posted already, but tonight's Marketplace on NPR is doing a segment on Ethanol. Check your local listings.