DrumBeat: November 15, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 11/15/06 at 9:12 AM EDT]

Shale offers U.S. rock-hard fuel prospects

OTTAWA — We should now be confidently able to push back "peak oil" by a few hundred years. In three western states alone, the United States has more than eight trillion barrels of hard-to-pump shale oil, which is roughly eight times the entire consumption of crude oil in human history. This oil has been commercially irrelevant because it is hard as rock and you can't put a furnace in every car. Now, though, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the job. This is the once-clandestine lab in New Mexico that delivered the world's first nuclear bomb. It is one of the world's great institutions of advanced scientific inquiry. Can shale be a tougher task than the Manhattan Project?

You can't know for certain, but it's a good bet that, within a decade or two, the rock that burns will flow through pipelines in quantities large enough to make the United States self-sufficient in energy for a very long time.

Turkey can cut risks for Europe

On the issue of Europe's sense of vulnerability to the risk of interruptions in the supply of energy, based on a spike in hydrocarbon prices or a prolonged period of weakness vis-a-vis major energy suppliers, the report explains, "This is partly a function of higher global prices for hydrocarbons, fears over supply-chain weaknesses, increasing geopolitical competition for resources and growing debate over 'peak oil.'

Clean energy takes center stage

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, spoke passionately about climate changes and his vision of a nation no longer reliant on fossil fuels.

U.K.: Polluting cars face charge rise

Vehicles causing the most pollution in central London are to face huge increases in the congestion charge, mayor Ken Livingstone has announced.

ANALYSIS: President-Elect Ortega Faces Daunting Energy Crisis

One of the main challenges facing Nicaragua's president-elect and former revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega is the country's energy crisis, which has caused daily outages in what is one of the western hemisphere's poorest countries.

Andes Strikes Deal, Ends Tarapoa Protests

Chinese oil consortium Andes Petroleum has struck a deal with residents from Ecuador's Sucumbíos province who occupied installations on the company's Tarapoa block last week, a hydrocarbons ministry spokesperson told BNamericas, confirming a Reuters story.

Unplugging Thailand, Myanmar energy deals

BANGKOK - Thai Energy Minister Piyasvasti Amranand says he intends to scrap the previous government's controversial multi-billion dollar plans to ramp up imports of hydroelectric power and natural gas from neighboring military-run Myanmar, signaling a potentially significant shift in which direction the region's energy flows and a possible new era of bilateral antagonism between the historical rivals.

Senegal’s Wade wants fairer oil share

DAKAR — Oil companies operating in Africa must plough part of their oil profits into fighting poverty there or risk being expelled from the continent by unrest and turmoil fuelled by inequality, Senegal’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, said.

Wade said it was "indecent, immoral" that oil majors should be raking in multi-billion dollar profits from higher oil prices while poor, oil-importing African states saw their energy bills increase by tens of millions of dollars.

Ministry displeased with Sakhalin Energy ecological steps

Congressional peak oil caucus responds to CERA study

More green energy use could cut costs, study finds

Switching the U.S. economy to run more on renewable energy sources rather than traditional fossil fuels could save money and reduce pollution, and the benefits could be seen within a decade, a think tank said Monday.

OLF: Hunt for Oil Now Linked to Idle Assets Not High Price

A strong historical link between high oil prices and abundant exploration has disappeared, but attempts to increase circulation of idle acreage could begin to reverse the de-coupling and boost the search for oil, the managing director of Norway's Oil Industry Association, or OLF, said Tuesday.

Tap U.S. soil, seas for oil, gas; stop buying foreign energy

The public interest in lessening America's reliance on imported fuels requires that we adopt a more rational policy toward production of oil and natural gas on federal land and in coastal waters.

Vote on oil bill promised this year

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders in the House of Representatives agreed Monday to take up legislation during a post-election lame-duck session that would expand offshore oil and gas drilling and provide the first meaningful sharing of federal royalty payments with Louisiana and other producing states, Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, said.

Jindal said the GOP House leaders for the first time expressed a willingness to pass a Senate measure with more limited drilling options and less revenue sharing, at least for the near future, if no compromise can be reached with Senate leaders on a House version.

OPEC increases estimate of world oil demand in 2006

VIENNA (AFP) - OPEC has slightly increased its estimate of worldwide demand for oil in 2006 -- now expected to average 84.3 million barrels per day (bdp).

The estimate is an upwards revision of 100,000 barrels per day from a previous forecast of 84.2 million bpd, the powerful cartel said Wednesday.

Russia to raise gas prices for CIS states

MOSCOW- The majority of the former Soviet countries are almost entirely dependent on energy supplies from Russia. Meanwhile, political realities and current trends on the global energy market do not make a fall in gas prices very likely.

California: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gas14nov14,1,1475055.story?coll=la-headlines-business

Meanwhile, a consumer group says only three automakers improved the fuel economy of their fleets since 1996.

Appliances to Face Tighter Energy Rules

New energy-efficiency standards for 22 appliances will be set over the next 4-1/2 years under an agreement settling a lawsuit brought against the Energy Department by the Natural Resources Defense Council, consumer groups and 15 states.

It heats. It powers. Is it the future of home energy?

Down in Bernard Malin's basement is a softly thrumming metal box that turns natural gas into hot water and generates $600 to $800 worth of electricity a year - a bonus byproduct of heating his home.

"It's like printing money," says Mr. Malin, the first person in Massachusetts - perhaps in the nation - to own a residential "micro combined-heat-and-power" system, also known as micro-CHP.

Annan: Cheaper to cut emissions now

Scientists: More research needed to balance food, energy needs

DES MOINES — A non-profit consortium of scientists says there is an urgent need to step up research on ethanol production to balance energy needs with climbing corn prices and pressure on food and feed supplies.

The Last War for Oil?

There should be no doubt that the United States has waged two Gulf wars largely, if not solely, for oil. To ensure that the Iraq war is the last Gulf war, the administration and the Democratic majority in the new Congress must work together to enact an energy-independence bill to address the root-causes of these wars and free America from the shackles of foreign oil.

Bulgarian nuclear shutdown worries Balkans

Gjergj Bojaxhi, Albania’s deputy energy minister, suffers from back pain that gets worse when he sits. He walks around the office, hunching and wincing, absorbing the twinges as he speaks. But one word makes him stand up straight – Kozloduy.

Head of Russian Oil Fund Shot Dead in Moscow

The head of a Russian fund that says it promotes the development of small oil and gas producers was shot dead on Tuesday in southwest Moscow, the Reuters news agency reports.

Zelimkhan Magomedov, 50, general director of the National Oil Institute Fund, was shot twice in the head.

Aussie company Woodside Petroleum has flagged that it will miss by 5% its estimated 2006 natural gas/oil production figure of 72 mill boe, after having downgraded its original estimates in June by another 5%. So a small Aussie company cant get it togther, what about the bigger oil companies? Apparently it has delay problems of nearly a year in the Otway Basin (Victoria), price-induced shutdowns in the Gulf of Mexico, its Mauritania oil project is down 50% & its new Enfield field is producing 30% less than planned just 3 months after opening! The local news is saying that one of the 5 Enfield production wells is already producing water after just 3 months! What were CERA saying yesterday?
In terms of oil and Iraq, something to ponder -

'And then there was Iraq. There is much to say about America's most disastrous folly since Vietnam, but in some ways the most telling indictment is the response of ordinary Iraqis. As Richardson explains:

    They find the claims that the United States is occupying Iraq to defend New York and deploying an army to import democracy to be so implausible that they do not believe them. Instead, they believe the claims of those who say the US Army is a self-interested army of occupation interested only in dominating the region and exploiting its oil wealth.

"In effect," she concludes, "they find al-Qaeda's propaganda more credible than ours."'

From the end of a review at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19657

Been lurking here for a few months - great site.

A thought I have long held on the issue of energy security for the US: US miltary budget is just shy of $500 billion per annum, a large part of which appears to be for sustaining a sufficiently powerful military to protect US energy interests in the Middle East.

What would the impact on the price of oil be if the US were to reallocate 10% of that annual budget to the deployment of renewable energy schemes? $50 billion would build a lot of wind and solar farms and could also be used to fund wave and tidal projects that private equity will not touch for a host of reasons (technological uncertainty, long payback periods, planning concerns, etc), as well as providing a huge source of R&D funding for new technologies. By virtue of the fact that the funding would come from re-allocated federal budgets it would not be necessary to demonstrate private equity style rates of return. In theory it would not be necessary to show a demonstrable "return" at all.

It is estimated that there is in the region of 50,000 MW of tidal and wave resource on the west coast of North America, enough to provide for pretty much all current power consumption west of the Rockies. An example of the type of project that could be contemplated can be found at http://www.tidalelectric.com/ (although I personally do not believe that this would be the most economically efficient way to harness tidal power, it has the benefit of being sufficiently low-tech to be demonstrably workable)

Clearly such projects would not be like-for-like replacements for the majority of petroleum-based product consumption, but they would provide a huge future resource base for electricity-based replacements to the existing FF-based transport infrastructure.

Good to have you on.

Prioritization as it relates to DOD spending versus DOE spending is a topic I have touched on numerous occasion but keep in mind that Peak Oil is a Liquid Transportation Fuels crisis, not an electrical one.  

Here's the tongue in cheek Oreo Cookie example I use: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-YzPuCGShI8

Luckily, I'll have the chance to address the above in Washington next year.

Peak Oil is a Liquid Transportation Fuels crisis, not an electrical one

This is a bit misleading IMO. If for example we replace enough natural gas from electricity generation, it can be easily used directly to fuel the cars. The technology is there and can be applied to existing vehicles (at the cost of some 1-2000$, likely to drop with mass production).

Displaced coal can be liquified or maybe better - gasified with higher efficiency to be used the same way as NG.

The truth is that PO promises to be a crisis, because all of the fossil fuels seem to be reaching a logistic maximums for various reasons and to different extent. These maximums will likely convergate in time when various replacement processes start to be implemented. Another consequence is that the severity of PO will vary with the location, because coal and NG are not that fungible as oil. Coutries where coal or NG is still abundant or countries that rely on nuclear energy will be much better off.

Maybe you didn't receive the memo.  Peak gas has arrived in north america in 2001.

It is very hard to build new gas docking terminal (NIMBYism and BANANA stuff)

BANANA is Build Absolutely Nothing Awfull Near Anyone.

On my whiteboard in my office I have this for BANANA!

Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything!

This is a back of the envelope calculation, but what it reveals is a catch-22 situation if we are unable/unwilling to change our pattern of energy consumption.  

If you take ALL the natural gas that was used (in 2005) for electrical production and used it in place of gasoline, you would displace only 37.5% of all the gasoline used.  Furthermore, I drive a NG car periodically.  They burn NG or gasoline but not "both" so when you run out of NG (actually when the regulator cuts you off), unless you have some way to quick-connect a pressurized bottle of NG, you are stuck.  

Our Hondas have a maximum fill pressure of 3200 psig.  Our other larger vehicles have tanks pressures up to 3600 psig.  Filling them is relatively simple with the quick connect system, but it is not fast.  A near empty tank can take 20-40 minutes to fill to capacity with a large "fast" compressor station.  Since you are compressing gas from a much lower "street pressure" to a much higher tank pressure, the compression causes the gas to heat.  These compressors have a very large intercooler to drop the temperature back down to acceptable levels prior to filling the vehicle tank.  Nonetheless, these tanks do get quite warm when filling.  A "slow fill" system or systems with small intercoolers may take as long as eight hours to refill.  Changes the experience of filling the tank to a "career."  

Add to that the fact that electrical generation using natural gas primarily uses relatively new, high-efficiency simple cycle or combined cycle turbines that can only burn natural gas or distillate oil.  So whatever  gas you take away  (and oil you save from automobiles) has to be made up by more oil use.  These new simple-cycle CTs are much more efficient that just about any coal-plant except supercritical, double reheat EGUs with a nice cool lake for condenser water.  And there aren't any coal-fired power plants that can match the current generation combined cycle CTs.  

That's the principle behind IGCC...to gasify coal into a product that can be burned in a high-efficiency combined cycle CT that is more efficient than an equivalent coal-burner.  You give up a substantial amount of the efficiency by using the coal's heating value to gasify it, but the operating at a net 40-45% efficiency compared to the more nominal 30-35% efficiency of a standard coal-plant may be worth the difference.

But the underlying point is that with 2% annual growth in various energy demands AND the need to change to a different distribution of fuels...well it's just not going to happen.  Consider that without PO staring us in the face and we kept everything in it's current proportions (oil, gas, coal) that in 35 years we have to have the ability (and the infrastructure) to handle twice as much of EVERYTHING as we do now.  

More over, the substitution of coal (or more clearly the liquifaction and gasification of coal) for other products we currently use won't be as much help as many think.  
Thirty years ago, "we had" about 400 years of coal at the usage rate of the mid-1970s.  Today we have between 250-275 years.  Did we really use 125-150 years of coal in 35 years?  Yes, mostly because we've doubled our rate of consumption and our estimates of the reserves (and their declining quality) have become more refined.  

Currently, coal accounts for about 23% of our total energy use.  With the combination of "normal growth" and susbstitution of coal products are we really likely to have enough coal for "hundreds of years?"  Probably not.  

Anything that can replace 1/3 of a countries wehicle fuel use is not an "only" solution. I get excited by anything that can replace 1/10.

Seamless transition between gas and gasoline is standard on the biogas cars sold in Sweden and its essentialy the same methane.

It would be a very good idea to build as manny nuclear powerplanst as you can and replace natural gas heating with heat pumps and any base load use of natural gas for electricity production.

There is hardly any baseload generation of electricity in the US using gas except for CHP plants (which might best be left alone).  These turbine plants that have been put into operation are largely "instant on" peaking and reserve plants.  

Heat pumps only make sense for a portion of the US.  Even with the higher COP that is possible with newer designs, they don't do well in cool moist winter environments.  They spend too much time defrosting.  

By seamless, do you mean that any vehicle is switchable between gasoline and methane?  Do they have one injection system for gasoline and another for NG/methane?  

The point I was making is that this is not a substitution.  Robbing the NG from electric generation from high efficiency pre-mix NG turbines to burn in vehicles means that turbines must burn something else (distillate oil with diffusion combustion rather than pre-mix).  Unless consumption is reduced, you end up with "no solution."

"Heat pumps only make sense for a portion of the US.  Even with the higher COP that is possible with newer designs, they don't do well in cool moist winter environments.  They spend too much time defrosting.  "

What about ground-exchange heat pumps?

"this is not a substitution. "

Any thoughts about substituting wind, and in the longer term solar, for coal and nat gas?

On ground exchange---possible but costly and less appetizing when things go wrong.  I have several friends that have invested in such systems and their dissatisfaction comes from when things go wrong underground.  

Only portions of the US have areas where wind is "reliable."  It should be included in this mix, but you can't just turn the wind on.  And as was demonstrated in CA this past summer and previously, heat waves tend to correspond with low wind just when you have the highest demand.  CA's problems were also compounded by the NG compressor cooling issue.

As for solar, I think we are probably far enough along on higher efficiency PV cells that we should consider jumping forward with them.  Solar thermal also has some promise in certain areas (e.g., Kramer Station in CA).  A point worth considering about solar cells is that the higher efficiency cells require substantial initial energy input as well as fossil fuels.  If we wait to long, solar will look like an alternative we wished we had taken and would then be tantilizingly "out of reach."  

I recommended to a friend in Peabody, MA that she install

  1. An undersized geothermal heat pump (adequate for summer cooling load)

  2. A high efficiency condensing gas furnance (~94% AFUE but the c)


3) A wood furnance with outside combustion air

as well as insulate & caulk/seal more.

She can "twitch between fuels".  Currently a geothermal heat pump can probably supply all her heating down to 32-40F at the lowest cost (wood perhaps cheaper, but not dramatically).  NG may be more expensive/BTU but not dramatically and the capital cost is much lower.

Wood is the emergency backup and potentially lowest cost but a hassle.  Uneven heat as well w/o air circulation but when a blizzard hits, the grid goes down, it is good to have a pile of wood !


"their dissatisfaction comes from when things go wrong underground."

What went wrong?  Were they unhappy overall -  IOW, would they do it again?

If we start doing it on a large scale, I expect that we are going to have the bottles pre-filled at the gas stations, and you just pay for the difference. The best thing of all is that the infrastructure to transport NG is already in place.

The case for transitioning at least partially to gaseous fuels is not bad: we can obtain them from the ground, from coal, from biomass, we can even use electrolysis and mix the H2 in small proportions. The respective processes are much more efficient then turning them to liquids.

Your idea has a certain appeal and a practical limit.  

First a simple, high pressure quick connect would be possible for changing tanks, similar to how we currently fill these vehicles.  

Second, a typical FRP tank (which is what our vehicles contain) take more vehicle volume than a gasoline tank.  We can get about 200-250 miles per tankful.  Even though methane is highly compressible (I mean that in the sense that it does not follow the ideal gas law), the combination of methane (at pressure) and tank weight required for a vehicle provides a limit to moving tanks around.  You and I are not going to hoof one of these tanks around (even dividing the current single high pressure tank into two or three smaller tanks might make the individual tanks more manageable, though the total weight will increase and increases the number of connections required).  Even an automatic "bottle replacement system" would require some sort of universal system for vehicles.  

Third, bottle storage and inspection.  It's one thing to have various LPG bottle redistribution points for gas grills and even for those systems that use a larger amount of LPG with larger truck transported replaceable bottles.  But think of the footprint required for a typical "gas station" to store full, empty, and those bottles being refilled for the number vehicles served.  Thats much different than underground storage tanks for liquid fuels.  

I posted this some time ago and no one commented.  I took all of the known world reserves and consumption of coal, oil and NG frrom the EIA website, converted them to equivalent Btus and did the math for growth rates.  I can provide the data if you like:                             

Growth Rate                Years Remaining       
    0%                90.4       
    2%                52.1       
    4%                39.0       

I noted before but did not comment.

VERY interesting for those that suppose that we can substitute (conversion losses like CTL up "consumption").

Renewables ARE needed !



Funny thing this exponential growth
Depleting landlocked sources of NG are far more valuable in other applications then used as an LTF insofar as North America is concerned.

At the end of the day, it will be easier and cheaper to convert one's F-150 to run on an EtOH blend with a smarter carb, then to try and change the entire motoring infrastructure.

And unlike the fossils, EtOH can be produced anywhere on the continent, from practically any carbonaceous material available.

Add conservation, electrification and other mitigation strategies to the mix and we should be able to keep up with a modest rate of decline.  

But the combination modest decline and demand growth are a dangerous formula.  Far better to ditch the F-150 for a more modest, light weight vehicle that we also drive less.  

Basic physics of moving mass does not change just because one changes fuel.

With infrastructure you might be able to produce EtOH anywherem but there are large swaths of the North American west that have low growth rate, limited biomass because they are high plains deserts.  I just drove through the areas of Northern Colorado and across much of lower and middle Wyoming.  There may be quite a number of gas and oil wells and much oil shale,  but it's a fairly stark landscape most above 6,000 feet.  

Fair enough.  I'll give you an interesting segue though: mesquite.

Down in Texas there's apparently 1000's of acres of mesquite that thrive in the low mositure environ and actually choke off the creation of natural water reservoirs.

There's been no way to harvest the mesquite until just recently as an outfit down there have created the first ever designated mesquite harvester.

The potential exists (and groups are working on it as we speak) to turn this unique and most unanticipated feedstock source into ethanol.

"What would the impact on the price of oil be if the US were to reallocate 10% of that annual budget to the deployment of renewable energy schemes? $50 billion would build a lot of wind and solar farms and could also be used to fund wave and tidal projects..."

Good idea. When you gain control of the U.S. Congress, we should implement this plan.

2009 will give the Democrats a secure hold on the Senate, a bigger majority of the House, and the White House. Then we will see a synfuel and electric cars program. Possibly electric trains someplace like New York where the subway can be elevated and population is dense. Elevated railroads are unpopular, but cheap and fast.
2009 will give the Democrats a secure hold on the Senate, a bigger majority of the House, and the White House.

I'd be careful with predictions.  Personally the Democrats regaining the majority right now I think was a strategic mistake on their part.  I don't think its a Republican conspiracy, but I can't help but think that the Dems may be walking into a trap set by fate.  If the economy tanks into recession shortly after they take over in 2 months, and if they can't show progress on forcing the Republicans out of Iraq, or if Iraq improves due to Bush's plan, they could be setting themselves up for a nasty fall.

Not to mention, even in winning the democrats are acting like a pack of jackals, and some are calling for Dean to resign from the DNC because the Dems didn't capture "enough" seats.  Gotta love it... win back a majority in both houses in a nation that is roughly 50/50 split, and its still not good enough.

It is easily good enough.

When all is said and done, the Democrats will have picked up roughly 30+ House seats, which is about equal to the greatest margin the GOP ever enjoyed during their 12-year reign.  As for Howard Dean, the man is now vindicated!  His controversial "50 state strategy" was a stroke of genius, whereas the Republicans and their president were spending money in the most unusual places (i.e. solid red) during the waning days of the campaign.  Clearly, the man's efforts paid off handsomely for his party, and they are in a much better position to parlay their success in 2008.  

For environmental advocates, the election results clearly were beneficial.  Two of the most dastardly villains in Congress were removed from their powerful positions as chairmen of influencial committees.  Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), chairman of the House Resources Committee and a sworn enemy of virtually every environmental law you could think of, lost his race.  Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, will be in the minority party come January, thus losing his chairmanship (this dinosaur mocked global warming as the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people", and was among the most prominent roadblocks in Washington regarding this issue).  

Having purged these two individuals from their committee chairmanships made the election results all the more satisfying. :)

I would go further....

The 2008 electoral map is VERY friendly to the Dems in the senate. It is going to be very difficult for them to avoid picking up a seat or two. In the house, even if they lose a fair number of seats, barring some sort of tidal wave, they'll still have the majority. For state houses and governorships, they have a solid majority now that will last until 2010 (4 year terms), which means they automatically get to do redistricting in 2010 throughout most of the country (30 states, roughly, with the majority of the country's population, and thus House seats).

This means that in 2010, they will pretty likely gerrymander the remaining blue state republicans straight out of existence. This is exactly what gave the republicans their current majority, lots of (in their case mid-decade) redistricting. The Dems get to redistrict now, and the results will probably not be pretty.

In addition, we have two more years of bush being a total ass.

I think in 2008 the Dems will actually gain seats in both houses, and the white house.

I do not accept the premise that the Democrats automatically have it easy going into 2008. In fact, looking away from politicians to actual ballot initiatives in all 50 states, I get the strong impression of a nation that is predominantly socially conservative and fiscally conservative. An astonishing 6 in 10 voters exit polled in Ohio (CBS news) said they were not voting for Democrats but against Republicans. That's hardly a description of firm control.

The Democrats certainly can hold the Congress and take the White House but I do not see that as automatically assured as you seem to think. Rather, the Democrats are going to have to moderate their socially liberal positions somewhat, and be more fiscally conservative than Democrats have ever been before. Moderating social positions happens all the time and measuring how "liberal" or "conservative" one is on social issues is a very subjective thing. But the budget is not very subjective at all, at least to the man in the street.

I believe that the last Democrat controlled Congress to pass a balanced budget was under Nixon. The balanced budgets passed under Clinton were all Republican held Congresses. I firmly believe the budget is a major issue, almost as large as Iraq. If the Democrats can successfully force the White House into a withdrawal from Iraq and balance the budget, they will have 2 huge feathers in their cap for 2008. If they can do neither of these, I expect many of them to be replaced yet again, either by other more conservative Democrats, by Republicans, or by independents.

The Democrats are in a strong position, no question. But it's not a guaranteed win. They will have to work to continue to hold the Congress and take the White House. Adopting sane policies on energy would be a good start and there are many Democrat affiliated groups that are putting forth good proposals now rather than smoke-and-mirrors over ethanol and such.

"I believe that the last Democrat controlled Congress to pass a balanced budget was under Nixon. The balanced budgets passed under Clinton were all Republican held Congresses. "

That seems a little misleading: technically Congress controls the budget, but these days the President usually sets the agenda.  Think about Reagan and GWB's tax cuts/deficits.  It seems clear to me that the last 2 Dem presidents, Carter and Clinton, were much better deficit wise than their successors.

I agree that Dems are in a bit of a trap.  I think their best bet is energy: oddly enough, that presents a much better win/win than an Iraq withdrawal or deficit reduction, either of which could have big unintended consequences.

Would this be some new "Democrats" party? One that will replace the current Democratic party? Because I don't see any influential democrats touting any alternative other than ethanol. And even that's not at the top of the agenda.

The democrats are just as much a part of the problem as the republicans. If you think they are going to do anything that will upset the capitalist growth engine, think again. They may try to make it a little softer on the edges, like raising minimum wage, but they aren't going to threaten the whole set up.

The Democrats just want to re-distribute more money from the rich to the middle class, end the war in Iraq at all costs, and do more to protect the environment and chase around whatever they think is preventing the golden age of justice from arriving (gay marriage, more regulation, etc).  Neither party would really know what to do in a real crisis.  All "radical" solutions are  totally unpopular and off the table, the polling data-analytics have gotten so good now that it's kind of a prisoner's dilemma with the co-operators choosing to implement real policy and the poll-chasers defecting.  Of course if the libertarians won, we could have a Byzantine Empire style radical simplification of the country instead of ever increasing levels of diminishing marginal returns.  Simplification is really unpopular though.
What was 'radically simple' about Byzantium?

Check your dictionary and a good history book.

Byzantine means 'complex and deceitful'.

Libertarians would simplify, but some of the problems are by their nature complex.

For example Global Warming: an unpriced economic externality with disastrous consequences for all.

Overfishing falls into the same camp.

Then there is nuclear terrorism, the dependence of the US on foreign oil, global problems like AIDS and flu.

I bet you voted for Nader too. WOW, that sure worked the first time around, didn't it?!? Please, please, PLEASE, learn from the past.

Saying the Democrats are the same as the Republicans is so hopelessly out of touch with reality that I almost don't know where to begin. It's like talking with a creationist, can we accept that the earth is round, or do we need to start with turtles all the way down?

Seems to me one either gives up hope, which in an American context means voting for a fringe party (and throwing away one's vote)


one votes for one of the 2 main parties, and tries to work within the system for change.

Something like Richard Pombo losing his seat in CA was a big win for the environment, everywhere, not just in the USA.  Taking out James Inhofe is as likely as a blizzard in mid August in New York City, but would have similar benefits.

Another important thing to do is to learn the issues and become an advocate for them.  The internet allows a lot of grass roots communication to take place-- odd though it may sound, there are lots of people who think global warming is a distant problem that scientists are in disagreement about.

Because of the internet, it is possible to access directly the scientific knowledge and debate, and understand how wrong that viewpoint is.

What's out of touch with reality is believing that Dems will do anything significantly different. We had a Democratic congress for three plus decades before the recent Republican run - lot of good it did.

So, while you might not know where to begin, I'll just right you off as hopelessly naive.

The Clean Air Act

The Endangered Species Act

The Clean Water Act

Corporate Average Fuel Economy

These were all huge pieces of legislation, with significant effects for improving the environment of the United States.

What little alternative energy R&D and standards regarding appliance and home energy efficiency that has taken place.

the reality is it will take both Republicans and Democrats to achieve action on climate change.

Senators Lieberman and McCain proposed trading in CO2 permits.  Whether they were serious or not is not clear, but it is certainly the case that the Gingrich-DeLay House of Representatives killed any chance of legislation of this nature.

Voting for third party candidates is not wasting your vote.  Firstly, the greens, libertarians, and other parties do serve as a warning shot across the bow of the 2 major parties.

Why did Republicans lose this time?  A lot of polling data suggests its because Conservatives either didn't Vote(in disgust with the Republicans), or voted third party libertarian etc.  Its a way to show that while a voter isn't ready to switch sides to the other major, they are dissastisfied with the current job.

Secondly, Independents and Libertarians have won seats.  I think even a Green has been in Congress before too, but I'd need to double check that.  Also many lower level government seats can often be picked up by third parties.  They have a harder time, but it can be done.

Thirdly, Politcal Parties have been upended and phased out in our past.  Where are the Whigs?  They were a major party for a portion of American history.  Eventually enough people are going to get tired to this never ending pendulum(sp?) of the Dems and Repubs.  When that happens a new party will have a chance to emerge and become viable against the current 2 majors, or replace one of the 2 majors.

If you only think you have 2 choices all the time, then this country is really screwed.  New ideas have to be brought into the fray, and a lot of times the two majors look at the surge in a particular minor party's popularity, and steal the idea that led to that popularity.  Hurts the small party, but ultimately the idea gets pushed forward.

Actually the Democrats rose in vote share just about equally across all demographic groups, by about 6%.

Their share of Republican voters even rose, by about as much.

What really happened was Independent voters shifted towards the Democrats, from the Republicans.

"What would the impact on the price of oil be if the US were to reallocate 10% of that annual budget to the deployment of renewable energy schemes?"

About zero.

If on the other hand, it were applied (consistently for 20 yearsr) to a fee-bate system to enhance, or replace the CAFE auto standards by favoring high efficiency vehicles, it would slowly have an effect over the lifteime of the vehicle fleet.

"$50 billion would build a lot of wind and solar farms and could also be used to fund wave and tidal projects..."

Yes, but how and where?   Would we have the wind farms in nowhere----congressional pork to put wind farms in places with no wind and little electrical demand, but located in the Appropriations Committee Chairman's district?

OK, that's an exaggeration.

Note that one nuclear plant (Palo Verde) produces more power today than all the wind and solar in the US combined.

"Note that one nuclear plant (Palo Verde) produces more power today than all the wind and solar in the US combined. "

I understand Palo Verde produces about 3.4 MW on average.  US wind is set to pass that by the end of this year, with about 3.7 MW average output and .8% of average US consumption.  If all of the 12 GW of wind planned for 2007 actually gets installed that will double.

The impact of renewables on transportation largely depends on the electrification of transportation, though coal and gas displaced by renewables would then be available to displace oil (with substantial delays and capital investment, in the case of oil).

So you're saying that by the end of the year, the renewables can equal one of the 106 reactors built decades ago? Wow, I can practically feel it now.

Seriously though. Heatwaves = no wind. It's just that simple. Wind is unreliable, and when you need it most, it's not there. You could ship it in from abroad, but if you don't have wind, then chances are your neighbor doesn't either. This would require a distribution grid on a scale far beyond anything contemplated today. It would have to readjust and send power from any part of the country to any other based on prevailing weather conditions. In addition, we'd need a VAST oversupply of wind so that the lights don't go out when SoCal experiences a heat wave. The european heatwave was made MUCH worse by the fact that it automatically knocked out their wind generation.

Wind as 10%, sure, because there's always some customers you can cut power to if you run short (industrial mostly). Wind as 50%, not likely.

Solar has exactly the same problem. Throw in a grid that can move this electricity all around the country based on the weather, and the ability to store enough to get us through a heatwave or excessively overcast weather in winter, and the scale of this project baloons out of all control.

Renewables probably won't work beyond 20-30% of demand, if you want more carbonless power, you have roughly 1 option, nuclear.

I'm all for getting that 30%, but lets not jump the gun here. When wind provides 20-30% and looks like it can make more without causing periodic blackouts, then lets talk about bashing nuclear. Until then, it's nuclear vs. coal for the remaining 70%, I know what I would prefer.

I agree the tradeoff is nuclear v. coal

(gas tends to be peaking plant only).

however there is also carbon sequestration.  Which will come, and will be important.  Like nuclear, it leaves a long term waste problem, but hopefully if the CO2 leaks in 100 or 200 years, we will be able to deal with it.

On wind, all forms of power are intermittent.  There haven't been 5 days in the last 20 years in the whole UK where the wind hasn't blown.  So whilst wind has a considerable thermal backup requirement (or more pumped storage) intermittency is not the obstacle it is sometimes portrayed.

It's also worth knowing that the wind is much more constant offshore, any place on the planet.  And you can build really big turbines there (wind is more constant away from the ground).  This means there are substantial wind power opportunities in the South East USA, even though the onshore wind potential (except in the mountains) is relatively poor.

In the case of the US the US has a number of different 'wind basins'.  This is very powerful, because when the wind is not blowing in one, it may well be blowing in another.

The energy treasure of the USA is the Great Plains-- fantastic and regular winds.  A resource, in its own way, as rich as that of the Texan oilfields.  The challenge is to harness that, and ship the power south to Texas and east to the Midwest.

I don't disagree that it is hard to see with current technology getting above 20-30% renewables.  But there are some tweaks (using mines for pumped storage) that will help, as well as more advanced storage technologies (superconducting rings, flywheels etc.).

The future electric power system will be founded on a mix of renewables, and coal with carbon sequestration (capture and storage).

I can't see nukes ever being more than 30% of US consumption.  Replace the 84 existing reactors (which has to be done over the next 25 years or so), maybe build a net 60 more, so 144 reactors or say, 4 a year* for 36 years.  That is as fast as the US nuclear industry ever commissioned plants, even in the heights of the 60s and 70s.

* the new plants will average 1350MW, say, v. 750MW now, but total power consumption will also have risen.

The reactor thing reminds me of something I heard long ago...

A man was talking about building a new highway, he wanted it done quickly, maybe a few years. Someone jumped up and says "Wait a minute, this thing is 300 miles long, and you want it done in 10 years? That's 30 miles a year, nobody can build 30 miles a year...."

Of course, when we made the interstate system (hundreds of miles a year, maybe thousands), we didn't have guys with shovels start in New York wait for them to reach LA!

Just because historically we haven't built more than 4 reactors a year doesn't mean it can't be done, or is even very difficult. If there were 30 sites building reactors, why in a country of 300 million people would they interfere with each other?

Put another way, France went from nothing to basically 50% nuclear in about a decade. Why can we (starting with a huge installed base, and the world's best supply of nuclear engineers and technology) not do the same?

I'd question whether the US (any longer) has the best supply of nuclear engineers and technology.  A lot of those people have retired (my father is 76) and one of the challenges in the industry is the next generation-- US enrolment in engineering and science has been at most static in the last 20 years, and with a tilt towards computer-related subjects.

4 reactors a year would stress the capacity of the system.
Of course, over time, these things can be scaled.  But you can't rapidly scale up complex manufacturing and construction processes.

These are far more complicated than building a road: the analogy is entirely false.  These are enormous lump sums of complex technology and skills, costing $2-5bn each.

If the US does begin a new generation of reactors, then I don't expect construction to start on any before 2008 or 2010 (I'm not sure when the reactor certification hearings are scheduled).   That would be 1-2 per annum.

To scale to 4, say, is certainly possible.  But it won't get you to more than 120 units over 30 years-- at a cost of around $600bn (the likely range is $300bn-600bn).  Talking about doing 6 or 8, which would put your completions at the highest levels achieved in the early 70s (I don't have that data-- does someone have a graph), seems to me to be very optimistic.

And of course none of this happens unless the Federal Government does something about long term waste disposal.

The nature of the modern electric utility is that it cannot put the financial risk onto the customer, purely, the regulators won't allow it (or conversely it sells into a deregulated electricity pool with fluctuating prices).  So utilities are going to have to see guaranteed returns before they enter back into the nuclear market.

Note British Energy (operating under the latter regime, with 9 reactors) went broke, and had to be bailed out by the government, when the pool price crashed.  Now if you have more nuclear power than baseload, you will get periods of near-zero electricity pricing (the nuclear plants will all be selling, and there will not be enough buyers).  So the US will have to plan for the same eventualities.

Finland is unusual in that large industrial users have underwritten power contracts which will be sold at nil profit.  There aren't many places in the US with that kind of industrial structure.

France is a vertically integrated utility, tied very closely to the French state in a way that wouldn't work in the USA (I can't see the Department of Energy building and operating reactors-- can you see that one getting by Congress?).

I think the industry projections for the US are for 20 reactors over the next 20 years.  That seems to me to be sensible, especially given:

  1. many localities will fight against new nuclear plants (Indian Point in New York State for example)

  2. 3rd Generation is a new technology, and to some extent untested-- it will take a while to learn how to build and operate them efficiently and safely.  Nuclear reactors have never scaled as smoothly as they were supposed to.

  3. the solution to the waste problem is not going to come quickly

  4. the industry will have to create a new generation of nuclear engineers and technicians, and association skillsets

  5. new uranium supplies will have to be identified and mined-- again a 10 year lead time business

After that, I am sure the US could build 100 reactors in the subsequent 20 years (ie 2026-2046) if there was a clear sense of national and political purpose to do so.  I think that would require a really significant change in public opinion regarding global warming and a second Energy Crisis.

However in that same timescale I would expect the US to move to 100% Carbon Capture and Storage on fossil fuel plants, and I would expect solar power to be a competitive generation technology.

So the 'best choice' or the path chosen, is not at all clear at this point.

The now Toshiba owned (77%) Westinghouse Nuclear AP1000 is certified (as is the AP600 I think), a 1 GW nuke.  GE is a year or two away form getting their new BWR certified.

I think the AP1000 will work out fairly well.  Decades to observe a wide variety of plumbing designs (US nukes were often unique designs at detail level), refueling issues, etc. and the AP1000 makes a virtue of simplicity.

Not too large (not as efficient in kg of U > MWh) but right in the sweet spot of operating temps & pressures from an operating POV.  (The Finnish 1,6 GW seems to be pushing it).

Designed for serial production, it opens the US up to the risk of common design flaws, it should be "easy" to build large #s of them.

And the same design with different ages of operation should benefit the younger AP1000s as the older ones age and gain operating experience.

Firat orders are likely to be singles and pairs, but I expect to see triplets (like Brown's Ferry & Palo Verde) and quadruplets thereafter.

Building 4 identical reactors at one site, spaced 18 to 24  months apart, minimizes the stress on personnel and other resources and hence maximizes the potential rate of installation.  Such a site is also cheaper to maintain.

Best Hopes,


I agree it looks like many mistakes made, have become lessons learned.

however nuclear power has never entirely fulfilled the promise expected of it: neither in cost of construction, nor reliability of stations (on average).  It's always turned out to be an expensive technology.

And a good portion of the reactor is 'construction' rather than manufacture ie site specific.  And construction can mean very long planning delays, especially if there is strong local opposition, as well as a good deal of tweaking.

The same cost inflation factors that hit other construction projects (steel, copper, skilled labour etc.) can and will hit nuclear projects.

So I am at best cautious on claims for superior performance by new nuclear plants.

And the waste issue looms out there, unresolved.

I think that an assumption that the US can build 120 reactors in 30 years is stretching it, in terms of what is possible politically and economically.

I don't deny if the lights started flickering out that things might change, with a change in the political climate: but then it takes up to 10 years to get a nuclear plant operational (and a minimum of 8 from drawing board) and so other forms of power (coal!) are going to be there first.

This is always the danger that people fall into. Take the present, project it far into the future, and think that this has some validity.

We have LOTS of nuclear engineers. I work with them everywhere, you can't swing a cat in a computer shop without hitting a nuclear engineer who left the field because EVERY SINGLE POLITICIAN in the country has sworn up and down to kill the whole lot of em and send em to the unemployment line. Given assurances, they would come back. Our nuclear fleet provides a pretty decent stock of nuclear engineers, and a decent stock of reactor construction as well, materials, etc...

As I said, france went from nothing to 50% in a decade. Are you saying we're just worse engineers than the french, or that there's some actual limitation? Basically, we all know there's no limitation. The day that coal has to pay to kill people is the day we go all nuclear.

We both know that sequestering carbon is a vastly larger undertaking, and it will never get off the ground. You think  it's easier to bury a billion tons of gas a year than it is to build some metal pots to boil water? Seriously, turn that analysis on that project. Nobody has the faintest clue how they're going to sequester carbon. There's maybe a pilot plant here or there running at some meaningless level with massive subsidies. This is at the stage where nuclear was in the 50s, if not the 40s, and it's technically vastly harder as well. That is a pipe dream (literally) if ever there was one.

France has been at the nuclear project since the 1970s.  For them, this is a 40 year investment.

You are completely incorrect to say they did it in 10 years.

If you want to see how French engineering works, go and take a Train Grand Vitesse (TGV).  There is nothing comparable in any Anglo Saxon country.  They have been working at this technology, and the associated infrastructure, for 50 years.  It is faster to get around France by train, than to fly.

Or look at Airbus.  To build the world's number 1 or number 2 airliner manufacturer, from scratch, in 50 years.

They have a form of state-industrial cooperation that doesn't exist in Anglo Saxon countries, and a public trust in high technology.

So France is a bad example.

It wasn't politicians that killed the US nuclear industry.  It was cost overruns and safety concerns.

On sequestration, the pieces of the puzzle all exist (Weyburn Sask, Sleipnir Norway etc.).  What remains is to knit them all together.

You can take Airbus.  Gov't funded & supported "industry", sales aided by bribes & EU gov't pressure & gifts, poor aerodynamics and a product strategy (motivated more by nationalistic pride than commercial considerations).

To quote the recent 99 day head of Airbus "It will take at least 15 years for our products to catch up with Boeing".

Airbus has MASSIVE advantages with their gov't support over Boeing, but is failing ATM.

Once Boeing applies 787 technology to the 737 replacement, lights wil start going off in Toulouse :-)

Best Hopes for A380 = Concorde


Wasn't the EU's tsunami relief predicated upon the purchase of the A380 by the affected governments? Even then the bird wouldn't sell.....
Palo Verde is three of the largest US nukes built (1.24 GW each)  Avg is a bit less than 1 GW.

Installed US wind at the end of the this year should = roughly 5 average US nukes.  Add another 2 or so for 2007 installation.

Best Hopes,


This is where the one solution fits all mentality is limiting the scope of thought.

If there is a major heat wave and wind isn't blowing, I could be certain that the sun is shining which means the solar systems could be kicking in to provide the lack from Wind.

If its cloudy and solar is running at efficiency, then chances are good, the wind is blowing those clouds in somewhere.

The trick with renewables is not to have a combined renewable package that equals 100% of our need.  The trick is to have a combined renewables package that equals 150% or more of our need depending on conditions.  You want overlapping coverage.  Somedays you might be getting the bulk of your power from solar cause the sun is out, and on other from wind.

On top of that, our storage abilities need to improve.  If we are in a season of abundant solar or wind, we need to come up with ways to take that excess and store a portion of it.  It might be in the form of batteries, capitors or some other electrical storage device, or it might be in the form of pumped storage.

And even with all that, yes I fully expect we will need fossil/nuclear sources of energy, but if we can reduce the need for fossil energy to be even 50% of the total need, that would be a huge improvement over our current path.

I think too many people focus on the effort to just somehow instantly (and 20years is basically instantly when talking about civilizations) stop using all fossil fuels.  Its not going to be like that, we will shift gradually from one to the other.

Anyhow, the dogging on renewables when you are considering them in isolated systems, is a stupid excercise.  The solution is not a 1 size fits all type of thing.  And so when looking at wind, yes look at the shortfalls, but then also include a realistic view of alternatives which could fill in when wind is down.

150%, try 300% or more. Wind power gets around 30% utilization on average, that's an emperical fact. If it gets 30% on average, then I contend that there are days in the continental US where the sum total of all our wind is getting less than 20%, so lets say as an absolute bare minimum, we'd need 500% of demand as installed wind capacity, and even then we'd have a blackout from time to time. What's really the number that the capacity in the US doesn't drop below? Is there never a day when our wind averages 10% of theoretical maximum? 5%? Where is the cutoff?

I grant you that the wind is always blowing somewhere, but is it blowing enough in enough places to keep the lights on throughout a country of 300 million people at all times? 365 days a year? Every day, every hour? Even a 5 minut blip in wind would cause blackouts.

Wind works in Denmark because they're hooked into the EU grid that is not powered by wind. When denmark has extra wind, they can sell it to Germany, when they don't have enough, they can buy some. Who would the US trade with? Sell to Canada when we have 6x as much electricity as we need? Buy from Mexico when we have 1/2 as much as we need?

To the extend that we have stuff that can be run at will (aluminum smelters, etc...) wind is the way to go. When the industrial customers run out, we need another solution for the rest.

I'm sure wind+solar does better than wind alone, but don't kid yourself. Yes, even in heatwaves the sun does not always shine. It's called night, and it always happens. Has never failed yet.

Add substantial amounts of pumped storage, and time hydro to work with other renewables.  Rework geothermal from base to peaking power (more wells & generators, run at x4 for 6 hours/day)

Your #s are way off in a realistic scenario.

Best Hopes,


There is a lot happening in storage technology which gives hope: superconducting rings, flywheels, stationary fuel cells etc.

The rule of thumb, from the National Grid Co here (they also own Niagara Mohawk Power) is that 25GW wind capacity will displace 5GW of other capacity.

The 'capacity credits' awarded to different forms of capacity bidding into the Electricity Pool are lower than the actual load factors achieved, because they include an allowance for unreliability.

(the UK uses a 'fixed one hour gate' ie to produce power at 9pm, you bid into the pool by 8pm)

CCs, are roughly:

Combined Cycle Gas Turbines - 90%
Coal fired - 80%
Nuclear - 70% (nuclear plants have a history of unplanned maintenance and safety outages)
Wind -20%

So as you increase the amount of wind in the system, you increase the amount of fossil fueled backup.  Fortunately, most of that capacity already exists either as old coal fired stations or CCGTs.  

And since you aren't running it very often, the backup capacity will last a long time.

You can either hold a coal station at ready spinning (using something like 10% of energy) or you can fire it up (takes hours, increases wear and tear due to the heating up of the steam system), and then bid it into the pool as and when.

Gas turbine (straight) you can fire up in seconds, the Combined Cycle part has longer delays (as above with coal).

Active demand management is also pretty crucial here: if you can shut down consumers on short notice (many big industrial customers are on interruptible power contracts) then your reserve margin problem is much less chronic.  In Ontario, there is an electricity tariff where the utility can shut down your water heater or air conditioning plant for 30 minutes, every 2 hours.

Using a tradeable carbon permit system, each utility will make an economic calculation:

  • do I buy wind (no carbon cost) or nuclear (ditto) or Hydro as available?

  • if either is not available, do I burn gas (lower carbon cost) or coal (high carbon cost)?  Knowing that I will have to buy permits in the market for them.
That all works great when wind is 20% of the total. When it's 80%, then what? We keep fossil plants in good repair so they can be switched on for the two weeks a year they're needed? The plant itself is at least 1/3 of the cost of fossil power, so slap that right on top of the cost of wind. In addition to a much larger distribution grid, and storage costs, and the costs of jacking some guy's power twice a week. It adds up, the question is, how fast? Will it just be 2x the cost of the current setup, 8x, what?

Nuclear is $0.04/KWh, roughly, if wind can get under $0.08 for reliable (emphasis on reliable, $0.08 for power when the customers want it, not when the windmill decides to generate it) power, then it's got a shot, if not, then I'm not sure it does, the future will belong to either coal or nuclear.

Nick you mean GW.  1GW = 1000MW

Palo Verde capacity is 3.6GW

production (2003) is 28.5 GWhrs.

The point about nuclear is that it is 8-10 years to build a nuclear station.  Whereas it is 2-3 years to build a wind farm.

The two are complementary, in that nuclear is only economic as baseload power: if you have more nuclear than your baseload, you either have to sell it or throw it away.

Wind is intermittent, so it spreads across baseload, mid merit and peak.

Yes, I used MW where I meant GW.

"The two are complementary"

I would argue that the two are very similar, and therefore in competition with each other.  Both are capital intensive, with very low operating costs;  both generate electricity over 24 hours.  When both are generating during baseload periods there will be conflict, and you're likely not going to want much more than about 35% of your generation from wind and nuclear combined.  You can see this conflict from the steady stream of criticism of wind from nuclear advocates - just look at the Nuclear Energy Institute website, especially the blog.

Wind's disadvantage is intermittency. Wind's advantages are: wind is much faster to install;  has much smaller increments; and installation costs are much more predictable than nuclear; and nuclear has externalities: radiation hazards, both during operation and after, and from weapons proliferation (which I feel is by far the most important).

As of today, I believe that statement is false.  Perhaps true last spring even, but the rate of installation is quite high.

10,492 MW as of September 30, 2006 per AWEA.  Add 1.5 months since then.  Figure 32% load factor and wind > Palo Verde when down time is figured in.


Wind installed as of today should produce 30 TWh each year.  In 2003 (latest #s) Palo Verde produced 28.58 TWh.

I do see wind as leaving the "Large Scale Test & Proof of Concept" mode and entering as a major source of new generation.  As posted by others here on TOD, 40% of generation from new plants installed in 2006 will come from wind (another 4% from other renewables).

Best Hopes,


The interesting questions with wind are now:

- will the US Congress extend the RPC subsidy (also granted to new nuclear plants) to allow the growth of wind power to continue in the US?

(as The Economist and many other publications point out, it would be far better for government to tax carbon emission (or auction permits to emit CO2) and let the market sort out the most efficient technology however at the moment that idea has about as much political currency as a snowball in downtown Manhattan in August or a winter's dip in Lake Superior in January)

- can we feasibly run electricity grids with 10%, 20% or more of terrawatt hours sourced from wind power?

I think the extension of the PTC is pretty guaranteed.  I believe there is a consensus that energy was very important to voters in this last election, and the PTC has no real political downside.

In the long run Alan Drake feels that over 50% wind is possible.  I think he's right, but I think the point of diminishing returns will be about 35%, with solar, nuclear, hydro and biomass providing the rest.

I think wind's intermittency won't be that hard to deal with - 20% will be pretty easy, but more will require some work and expense which will require a comittment to CO2 reductions.

> 35% is point of diminishing returns for wind.

I do not disagree.  But the cost of alternative renewables (solar is the only other one that can scale up in large #s) make wind the preferred source even past the "point of diminishing returns".  The delta in costs weighs towards some solar, but just a few % from solar and much more from wind.

Basically, I expect wind + pumped storage to be cheaper than solar PV alone in 2025.

I assume -20% in today's demand due to conservation.  With higher population & electricity substituting for other energy sources, that seems close to the cost-effective limit.

And 23% nuke seems unavoidable to me without much higher costs.

Best Hopes,


I believe that if we move to a traded carbon permit system, then the pace of techological change will surprise all of us.

First and foremost, in energy consumption and demand management.  The average fall in energy consumption per unit of GDP is -1.6% (so total demand rises in any year where GDP growth is greater than 1.6%).  This can, I believe, be doubled


Second in energy generation and storage technologies.

When you realise an IGCC is 10% more efficient in energy conversion than a contemporary coal fired plant, 45% v. 30-35%, and IGCC is at the beginning of its evolutionary product lifecyle, you realise how much there is to be done, and what dividends it might pay.

There will need to be more energy R&D, the Stern Review points out this has halved since the early 1980s, worldwide, and that most of the innovative R&D was done under government auspices (industry tends to focus on what it does well already eg oil companies on oil extraction technologies).

I disagree about the value of gov't R&D.

The two best new renewables, wind and geothermal owe next to nothing to gov't R&D (what wind R&D was spent has had minimal impact on the WTs spinning today.  Almost all from Denmark).

Solar PV is still far from general economic competiveness.  And it has been the darling of gov't spending.

Yes, I support gov't R&D, but I have little hope of useful results from research grants.

I expect to be "surprised" by future solar PV.  Surprised by how little the economics improve over time.


The prices of solar cells have been falling by about 7% pa (there has been a blip up due to silicon shortages, the last 3 years).

At that rate they halve every 10 years.

PV is fundamentally a materials technology, and you can make gains by:

  • increasing the manufacturing yield
  • manufacturing more cheaply
  • getting more efficient power conversion

It seems to me the history of materials technology is one of success.  Aluminium was once an expensive metal.  Carbon fibres were once a lab curiousity, now they are heavily used in aircraft and there are some automotive applications.  Transistors were once rare and expensive.  Ditto any semiconductor.

If the world semiconductor industry can ship $400bn of product pa, I don't see why the world PV industry can't ship on that order of magnitude.

I think government played a huge role in creating the wind industry: by financing R&D and, in the Danish case, by mandating demand.

In any case, what the Stern Review is talking about is doubling world energy R&D from £20bn pa to £40bn pa.

£20bn will buy you about 60 F22 fighter planes (which no one has a plausible, post Cold War reason to procure).

  If you think how much of that is nuclear (perhaps 1/3rd) you realise how little we are actually spending on the greatest single threat this planet has faced in the lifetime of human civilisation (you could argue that nuclear war was greater: let's say I don't want to run the experiments to find out!).

Interesting the DOE has trashed its $25m pa research into geothermal, and $20m pa into hydro power.  Both of which are technologies of which I am sure there are more gains possible.

My thesis is that government grant R&D is "of limited value".

Not that other gov't actions are not of value, just R&D selected & funded R&D.

Denmark had carbon taxes, built transmission as needed, mandated "must take" for wind power from utilties (I think), set up an easy legal framework for a co-op to own a few WTs, (often farmers or a farmer + cityfolk), had limited siting restrictions, and the gov't maintained a database of experience (crucial so good WTs got more orders, bad ones not).

And they had over 80% of the market a few years ago.  The "Danish" model dominates (3 blade, up wind).  And gov't R&D has had little effect on current designs.  Commercial, mainly Danish R&D has.

I just do not think that gov't bureaucrats are very good at picking technologies or grant applications to fund.

Best Hopes,


-7% compounded means that PV  solar can compete with today's WT in 15 to 20 years by my rough calc (perhaps a dozen years in desert SW).  But WTs will also improve over time (at a slower rate).

And I question if that -7% pace can be maintained long term.

Thua I see PV solar as a niche product.

You quote a $ figure for ICs.  But that is not the correct metric.  How many square meters does Intel, AMD, Toshiba, etc. sell ?

Solar PV will be cheaper per square area, but area, not $ is is close to the correct metric (watts is best metric).

Best Hopes,


Alan, I think you're not looking at a few things.  First, the 7%/year is for silicon, which is now losing market share to thin-film (CIGS), which promises much faster price reductions.  The CEO of Sharp, the largest PV manufacturer (and a very large, reputable company) projects that PV prices will fall by 50% by 2010.  See Nanosolar.com

2nd, solar output is much more closely related to demand than wind (IOW it's closer to peak demand, which makes it more valuable per kwh), and appears to be somewhat negatively correlated with wind, which makes them complementary.

3rd, as generation equipment costs fall, Balance of System costs are becoming more important for both wind and PV, and they're easier to reduce for PV with Building Integration.

4th, just as wind is smaller & more modular than nuclear, PV is smaller & more modular than wind, which gives it faster generational turnover and easier project managment and financing: think integration into standard building developer plans (as is now happening in California), and 30 year mortgages.

Finally, PV doesn't have to compete with wind directly.  Wind is wholesale, and PV is retail.  That's why PV is now directly competitive in Japan and for some customers in California who pay more than $.25 per kwh.  As PV prices fall they will be competitive in more places and there will be a clear tipping point - at $.125 per kwh (a 50% reduction) PV will be directly competitive in a very large fraction of markets. Already PV demand is close to doubling annually.

"WTs will also improve over time (at a slower rate)"

I think it will  be a race to see whether wind or solar can cut costs faster.  The newest proposed offshore WT designs (floating, much larger & further from shore) appear able to cut costs by 2/3 by reducing support costs and taking advantage of size-related efficiency & better wind.

I had not thought of "balance of system" costs and you have a good point there.

I am NOT anti-solar PV !

I want a breakthroughs to happen quickly.

BUT, in my judgment, Wind Turbines will win the race with solar PV for the next couple of decades.

The world would be well served with two new renewable technologies that can scale up and economically replace fossil fuels.  I think I see one such technology emerging in the near term and the other still on the edges.

I do hope that you are right !

Best Hopes,


Retail residential PV solar installations are the type of niche application where I think solar PV will find a place.

But what % of US generation will come from such sources in 30 years (remember decay of solar PV) ?

My GUESS is about 4%.  A useful extra source of renewable power.

Best Hopes,


Yeah, I didn't think you were anti-solar.  I think it's useful to debate/dialogue these things to learn from each other and sharpen our models.  

In that spirit, how do you calculate 53% wind, 23% nuclear and 4% wind?

I should clarify that when I say "in the long run", I mean in about 50 years out for the status quo decentralized approach, and about 25 for a serious societal commitment.

For instance, Spain just legislated that all new construction must include a solar component (residential requires solar hot water heating, commercial/industrial needs PV).  If we had such a requirement for PV in the US we could easily get to about 35% electricity from solar in in the long run:  125M buildings with an average of 5KW each and 20% load factor would generate 125GW on average.

Building owners would generate for $.07, sell through their time-of-day meters for $.15, and buy at night for $.05, and net a real profit on the deal.

I am working on a TOD article about that.  I was looking for the most economical mix.

Nuke provides base load in areas with poor to mediocre wind resources (that includes California and most large population centers).  South & Central Florida may export nuke at night and import wind & pumped storage at peak.

Wind sources can be thought of as the Great Plains at the top (ND, SD, MN, IA, MO, WY, NE, CO, OK, TX) and as the "exporter". Offshore East & West Coast & Great Lakes will mainly serve localized markets and localized pumped storage.
(Some export, but a small %).

Low grade wind resources (load factors of 20% to 25% with oversized blades) will be used whereever possible to provide diversity and reduce transmission requirements.  The same for rooftop PV (No solar PV in the Dakotas).

I take advantage of time zones "smearing" the peak for Great Plains exports.  At least half of Great Plains wind exports would go to pumped storage at least halfway to final user than would be used directly though.

Massive pumped storage centers along Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Applachian Mts, and and slightly smaller centers in Ozarks and West Texas Davis Mts.  Local ones using old mines, smaller hills, reversing hydro dams, etc. if good sites are rare.

An example.  Chattanooga area has massive 30 GW pumped storage complex.  Every night it gets excess nuke power from Florida and most nights from Oklahoma wind farms on HV DC.

During the day, local PV supplies 22% of peak demand in FL, nuke provides 55%, wind 6% (FL is poor wind site), and imports from pumped storage and/or OK wind farms (routed through Chattanooga) supply the balance.

I hope this helps conceptually.

Best Hopes,


Alan, take a look at this work.


It indicates that there is a great deal of wind resource on all of the US coasts.  The northeast and northwest are especially good, but California, Gulf of Mexico and southwest coast (including Florida) look good enough for large supplies.

Given that offshore wind is more reliable, I'd say that this suggests that we won't have to rely on the Midwest as much as we thought.

Hurricanes work against more than minimal wind turbine installations in the GoM or in the Atlantic south of New Jersey (hurricanes hit further north, but less frequently and typically with less force).

The added cost of insurance and social risk of extended blackouts make more than small and relatively minimal off-shore installations (note that Florida generates a few % from wind.  Hopefully no more than 1% would be lost in any one year).

Unless they can create a WT that can survive 200 mph winds with comparable economics.  Then yes.  But I am loathe to assume such improvements.

Best Hopes,


hmmm.  Have you seen a formal analysis of this?

It seems to me that hurricane risks are low.  The Cape Wind turbines are rated to 150 MPH, which is Cat 4.  Turbines are fairly widely spaced, so a whole farm isn't going to go out at once.

Oil rigs still operate in the GOM.  WT's are going in off the Texas coast.

I suspect that you'd have a 1-2% per year chance of losing any individual turbine to a direct hit by a cat 5, which would raise costs by roughly the same factor.

"I suspect that you'd have a 1-2% per year chance of losing any individual turbine to a direct hit by a cat 5, which would raise costs by roughly the same factor. "

Well, your annual capital cost is 10% or less of the total, so you costs might rise 10-20% overall. OTOH, this is an upper bound as wind turbine hurricane resistance is only going to rise.  The penalty for transmission from the midwest, and pumped storage would be higher, so I would think that GOM turbines would be viable.

Without doing a proper binomial analysis, assume that there is a 1 in 25 annual chance of WT destruction by a hurricane in the GoM.  4%,  WT economic life 25 years.

The first year there is a 4% of losing 24.5 years of service, teh second year a 4% chance of losing 23.5 years of service, ...  Sum these up.  The expected economic life of GoM hurricanes is cut in half !

The economic alternative for WTs is nukes.  An mild excess at night that is exported to pumped storage (say Chattanooga), a shortage during the day that is made up, in part, by solar PV, , imports of Wind from elsewhere and Pumped Storage imports. (Pumped storage is also needed for WTs, no real difference for PS or transmission).

In addition, there is the social risk.  A few years ago, GFlorida was hit by 4 hurricanes.  A srong hurricane (not all were strong, but offshore hurricanes are stronger than on shore) and each can wipe out a 100 mile wide swath of WTs.

Note thst I included 6% from wind.  Florida could lose half of that and, with proper planning, "get by".  Not true for 50% of their power from wind.

Will WT maximumk wind resistance rise ?  Only for speciality WTs.  I expect the trend will be to drop, in order to lower weight, increase size, etc.

best Hopes,


"Without doing a proper binomial analysis, assume that there is a 1 in 25 annual chance of WT destruction by a hurricane in the GoM."

Alan, how did you get this?  The company installing WT's off of Galveston says their WT's will handle up to 155 MPH, which means it can handle anything but a direct hit from a category 5 hurricane.

That sounds to me like no more than a 1%-2% risk per year for any individual turbine, or roughly a 20% cost premium for hurricane risk, which seems to me tolerable.  Certainly the company doing this windfarm seems to feel that way.  How did you get 4%?

A bit of a round # (inverse of 25 year WT life makes for easier back of the envelope calcs) and partially from looking at GoM hurricanes for 40 years.

"Direct hits" (> 155 mph) by Cat 5 are quite broad.  We seem to be entering a period of more intense hurricanes.  At sea I remember Katrina >150 mph to be over 100 miles wide.

Remember, speed at landfall is NOT the issue for off-shore hurricanes.  And any acturial calc will overestimate the risk and hence the premium.

And even a 1% risk of being w/o enough electricity for years is "not acceptable".


Ok, so the bottom line is that we really don't have any quantitative idea: you and I don't have the data to calculate whether the hurricane risk is too high or not.  OTOH, there are a few data points which are encouraging.  

First, the Galveston WT's are rated for 155 MPH.  With normal engineering safety margins that means that they are likely to survive higher speeds than that (with the cube law, 170MPH is 32% more powerful than 155 MPH, roughly a normal engineering safety margin) though the % likelihood of survival will begin to fall with rising speed.  Katrina & Rita hit the coast at 125 and 115 MPH - were they over 155 just 10-20 miles from the coast?

2nd, wind damage to a turbine is unlikely to be a total loss.  Steel tubes are very easy to engineer to any desired strength, so it's the blades that would be vulnerable to damage.  They could be replaced relatively quickly and at only a fraction of the cost of the whole installation.

3rd, offshore techology is likely to go to floating platforms.  Such WT's could be easily moved, and holes in a windfarm could be replaced with new ones, or ones from another even from another coast in a relatively short time (that's one of their selling points).

Finally, the Galveston project is going ahead.  That area is as prone to hurricanes as any, and they clearly think the risk is acceptable.

We certainly live with the risk of a 1.3GW nuclear plant going out unexpectedly, and for an extended period. Individual wind farms are likely to be substantially smaller than that, and distributed over the coastline:  would there be a significant risk of a large % of GoM WT capacity going out with one hurricane, or even one hurricane season?

I predict that peak oil will not bring abrupt changes, peak coal could but it is far in the future. Decreasing natural oil will be gradually replaced by liquid fuel (obtained from coal by liquefaction).

As about CO2 increase from liquefaction, I'm not yet sure how this global warming thing will turn out (http://www.junkscience.com), and sequestration could be gradually introduced (and hopefully advanced to be economically feasible).

You're not going to get enough liquified coal to replace the US daily consumption of 20 million barrels per day.  Some combination of ethanol, CTL, and hybrids could offset the decline for several years, but we'd be much better off using our remaining coal to generate electricity for rail.  Trying to run the entire US auto fleet on coal would be disasterous beyond reckoning, besides the global warming and acid rain, it depletes our remaining coal supplies in 50 years or so and then it is game over--no oil, no gas, no coal.
I meant the whole world, I'm not living in US and if US would be forced to buy synthetic oil from other countries it maybe would redice a bit its imperial ambitions :)
The US has the worlds largest reserve of coal as far as I know...


Those reserves, while impressive, are not as large as some think. I explained that here in some detail.
" we'd be much better off using our remaining coal to generate electricity for rail. "

or for EV's.  EV's are about 8x as efficient as the average gas car, and actually use less electricity than rail (at least directly - rail supports denser living, which helps some).

Conversion of all 210M light vehicles to EV's would require only about 13% more electricity from the grid, and save roughly 12M BPD.

Increasing fuel prices will increase rail ridership at no significant increase in electrical consumption (just a reduction in comfort).  At least a +10% rise has been seen already on most systems in the last 2 years.

Also, transit management today simply does not care about electrical consumption (MBTA in Boston would save a fortune by using standard fluorescent or CF bulbs, but they use incandescents 24 hours.day).  A focus on electrical conservation (running single car trains off-peak if the demand is not there for example, station lighting or being concerned about weight for new cars, etc.) could drop the #s significantly.

Best Hopes,


True.  Also, some transit systems get subsidized rates for electricity.

But the question is: why don't they care?  I suspect the answer is mostly that transit is already so efficient that it doesn't really matter that much - electricity costs just aren't that big as a % of the budget.

The same thing applies to EV's.  If EV's reduce usage by 87%, there really isn't that much point to further reductions at greater marginal cost, (even though further efficiencies are certainly possible).  Both transit and EV's solve the problem.

Put another way:  gasoline vehicles currently cost about $.10 per mile.  The electricity for EV's costs about $.02.  Even if electricity doubles in price (which is very unlikely, even for 100% renewables), it will still only cost $.04 per mile.  That's cheap enough.

Alan, what are typical costs per mile for rail, including all costs?
From memory, 50 cents/pax-mile.  Bus is close to 80 cents/pax mile.  Total US data.
Any estimate of how much is fixed/capital versus operating cost?
Just so you know, Steve Milloy - the "junk science" guy - is a former (?) lobbyist for tobacco, oil, and drug companies.

He used to have a weekly or monthly column on the Fox News website.

He should definitely know something about junk science.

For actual science go read about climate change at http://www.realclimate.org

Junk science is a site run by a guy with a long history of taking industry money: including tobacco industry.  It's effectively a lobbyist site (as is Tech Central Station).

I wouldn't take anything it says, on anything, with any trust.

You may not be sure about how global warming will turn out, but the world scientific community is 99% agreed that:

  • the world is warming up -- all of the challenges to that idea (eg the tropospheric mismeasurement problem) have been soundly defeated

  • world atmospheric CO2 concentrations are at highs not seen in the last 500,000 years

  • the main, primary or indeed only cause of global warming is human action due to greenhouse gas emission (and deforestation) (in the short run: no one serious disagrees that over the 1000s of years, the peturbation of the earth's orbit and the resultant change in solar intensity is a major factor in climate change).

Where there is disagreement is on the speed and the likely end point.  There is a (growing) group of climate scientists (perhaps not yet the majority) who think it could be a lot worse, and a lot faster, than the existing consensus (as laid out in the IPCC reports).  So the 2 degrees centigrade consensus (which assumes significant retarding action by humanity) could well be way, way, too optimistic.

If you want true scientists who are global warming sceptics (and know anything about climate science, glaciology, oceanography etc.) you are down to a very small group.

Lindzen at MIT is the foremost.  His main contention is that global warming (which he doesn't deny) will lead to more cloud formation, hence less solar radiation reaching the earth.  He has, however, admitted that he doesn't know whether this will be the case, and that betting the future of the planet on that is something of a gamble.

Gray at Colorado is one of the world's leading storm experts.  He says we are too reliant on our models.  (Although Hansen's 1988 model (the central case, ie the one that his opponents deleted in repeating it) did indeed predict the world's temperature rise pretty exactly since 1988).

I've not found any other real climate scientists, with any track record in climate research, who doubt what I asserted at the start of this passage.

The time has moved past debate about the science.


The question now is what do we do about it, and how fast do we move?

The head of the National Academy of Sciences has largely made the same point.  The "debate" really is over.  

As for the junkscience site, it appeals to those who like the sound of argument to fulfill some demand for absolute certainty in this and many other science issues.  I find it appeals to the members of the church of "I don't wanna, you can't make me" when science might push us to confront our choices and our personal comfort levels with those choices.  

But it also points out people's hypocrisy...they want absolute certainty on global warming (for example) but find ambiguity necessary for nearly every other aspect of their lives.  

The interesting thing about the junkscience site is who funds it: a lot of industry lobby groups.

Ditto Tech Central Station (which I didn't know).

There is a massive disinformation campaign going on out there.  Peer-reviewed science is essentially unanimous about the existence of Global Warming, and the likelihood that it is CO2 accumulation caused by human activity which accounts for it.

We know as much or more about global warming than we do about the ozone layer at the point we banned CFCs.

But the popular press acts as if there is still a meaningful scientific debate.

check this linakge out.  

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22jim+davis%22%2B%22swamp%22%2B%22garfield%22%2B%2 2sewage%22&btnG=Search

Someone knows what the noise in the machine is all about.

Sewage systems that work for home and profit.  We can go local and always could we just did not think we could someone was selling us a bill of goods.  The guys selling wanted us to believe that we had no choices.

 200,000,000 million humans were supported on the system of the America's land masses,  My source is a paradox, in a box and if you want to know what the answer to that littel ditty is, you have got to e.mail e.mail e.mail me, Leanan are you listening to it the noise im talking.

Ditto ditto ditto ditto dtito, did I mistake??? are you sure?  LoL.
Thank I have been flying on the Rum in my gum, or the gum in my green, or the green in my gum or the hot air in my tummy and now the air is hot out both ends.

 LOL I am an Author at Large
 An Eagle eyed, Cat, who looks like a Bear and is as strong as an Ox.

 comments please????

Socially-conscious computer games

At Michigan State University, students are developing "Energy Crisis", which examines the consequences of switching to renewable energy sources, said Brian Winn, co-director of the school's Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab.

Among other socially conscious games with an agricultural theme is Third World Farmer, a 2005 student project from Denmark's IT University of Copenhagen. The game challenges players to stay alive through drought, disease, civil war, falling market prices and exposure to toxic waste from a chemical company that wants to lease their land.

Looking at the picture, I have to comment that it would be much easier to find adequate resources with a much smaller family. 6 kids, ouch! And this is typical for much of Africa, both Arab and non-Arab.
One reason people in poor countries have more children is a higher mortality rate. Because of things like malaria, poor nutrition, and poor health care, not all of them will reach adulthood. Also, the children are the family's only retirement system. They are expected to take care of their parents when their parents are too old to support themselves.
Thats not new as a retirement program. In Texas we call it Arkansas Insurance (geographical slur is intentional!)
Re:  Oil Shales

A comment and a question.

Is there ever any consideration given in any of these articles - maybe just a split second where the dots are connected (i.e. burning oil and climate change)- where even though we all simply marvel at the potential technology that could make it happen - well, maybe it's not the best thing to actually have it happen...  I don't do predictions typically but I will go out on a limb and say that a couple hundred more years of business as usual does not paint a very optimistic picture for me...

The question:  What quality oil does oil shale yield (relative to the sweet-light and sour-heavy scale) ?

Oil shale is kerogen, an oil precursor.  It's easier to make road asphalt into oil than oil shale.  
Thanks TJ - that's what I suspected.

Hence the need to enlist a national atomic laboratory in order to figure out a way we can convert it... so we can then burn it up in our cars...

Brilliant !

The thing that Cornucopian energy analysists like Cambridge Energy Research Associates ignore is costs. Kerogen and Bitumen aren't oil by my definition, oil has to flow at a reasonable temperature, 70 degrees farenheight or so.
   The real reason that oil replaced coal at the beginning of the 20th century is cost. Coal or tar or kerogen has to be mined, using coal miners, shipped, using railroads or trucks, and has an appreciable solid waste to be disposed of after the extraction process, requiring more transport. Allthese activities use a lot more labor than a refinery. The real, no joke costs, even ignoring the environmental costs, are 10 times that of even heavy oil.
  In addition the mining and refining of bitumen or kerogen costs about $500,000 per barrel per day of production. Compare that with the cost of oil, which is maybe $50,000 per barrel per day at present-varying with each prospect, and has little waste disposal problem.
  So the Cornucopians are comparing apples to oranges. Even biofuels and ethanol are closer to oil than kerogen or bitumen, and quite probably more economicially affordable
   I have no idea on how to effectively confront Cornucopians on this issue. Their tactics of using fake definitions of oil are like those of the antiabortionists who call an undifferentiated mass of cells a baby.  Kerogen and bitumen are just precursors to oil. Accepting them redefining oil is accepting the big lie.
From memory, I believe bitumen is degraded oil, having lost hydrogen.
Didn't read the shale article above due to registration requirements but the teaser says the shale is "hard-to-pump".  Didn't Shell or someone demonstrate an in-situ method of turining the kerogen to liquid and pumping it?  I think this type of thing is what they are talking about, then it could be pumped rather than mined.  However, obviously the cost of that in-situ process (which I recall sounding kind of crazy) would have to be considered as well.
Shell's methodology was to freeze the rock around the intended reservoir as a permiability barrier to polution, then to heat the reservoir to 700 degrees farenheight for two years which fracked the kerogen to oil and then pump it. Kerogen can't be pumped until it is processed into oil. I know its not an official definition, but I contend a hydrocarbon isn't oil unless it can flow before processing at a reasonable temperature.
looking at the economics, i suspect oil shale will be used someday, but as a replacement for coal rather than oil.
baked potatoes would be a better source of energy than oil shale
Are there 8 trillion barrels of baked potatoes somewhere?
8 trillion or 80 trillion or 800 trillion   doesnt matter   are you going to bake 8 trillion "barrels" of baked potatoes at 700 degrees f  for 2-3 years  (surrounded by a -60 degree f "freeze zone" , of course)   do the math
If they are already baked potatoes, why would I bake them?  Cheese and brocoli. Maybe bacon.

For real though, I think it was alan drake posted about a huge wind farm solely to heat the kerogen and in peak hours sell electricity.  I can't find the link.  Even if it does not work, the prospect would still cause all those wind turbines to exist.  Not bad.

yes  success through failure       no wmds  but the invasion of iraq was a success  and our children and grandchildren will  pay and pay and pay for that success.........mission accomplished    last throws of the insurgency    we are turning the corner     democracy in iraq  we are turning the corner again   stay the course    turn the corner again    stay dont stay the course      the strategy is success   the goal is victory   and we will not fail unless we give up   and the reason we failed in vietnam is we gave up too soon     turn the corner again   yer doin a heckava job rummy   YOU'RE fired
There's an interesting piece in this months ASPO newletter showing how reserves at all the major oil companies are down from 2004 to 2005.  Stuarts excellent "Do Reserves Prove Anything?" article, illustrated this phenomena of reserves generally climbing along with production, until peak, when they decline precipitously.
CHP - Combined heat and power
The idea is take a high grade energy source and make a high grade power (electricity) then lower grade (heating)

Options:  ICE - Internal combustion engine
          Stirling  (what I wanted)
          800 lbs 650 rpm 4.5 inch slow speed diesel  (option I have)

ICE and turbines have "wear issues" because of the higher speeds they run at amd have more noise than Stirling Engines.

Stirling makers who were claiming a 5K price point:

Whispergen knew people using biodiseel, but the power plant could not burn WVO like the lister-clone I ended up with.

And the latest "we are going to make a stirling engine based system"

As with all things stirling - I'll believe it when I can buy it.  (would have liked to owned an ST-5, but they are no longer made)

People in Japan are selling at high prices the old ST-5, which is a big, heavy, slow, low pressure air stirling with a huge amount of metal for its power.  But it does burn wood and make electricity.  There are far better machines coming out of the lab that will be much closer to the sort of thing I (or, more important, my wife) would be willing to have on the wood stove in our living room.

My opinion- the whispergen is a crank engine that has mechanical problems, and the microgen is a free piston that  works but costs too much. The Honda CHP is on the market today and works- at a high price.

But, old jungle saying,  if you can do it, you can do it better.  Excelsior!

Not sure if this has been posted here yet but Jay Hanson is hosting a meeting in Hawaii to discuss his work at www.dieoff.com.  Long time doomers (Totoneila) may be interested.

[ !!!Please forward to other lists!!! ]

I am going to host an informal social event at Kona Hawaii (airport
KOA), Feb 2007 to discuss the issues raised at "www.dieoff.com".

If you are interested in attending, please join
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonaHi/ or send an email message to

Everyone pays their own way. Only people who I have had some email
experience with over the years are eligible. The meeting will become
more clearly defined after I discover how many wish to attend.

Jay Hanson

Sounds like he wants to be able to take his hawaii vacation off his taxes.
I gather he's living there now.
Yes, Jay Hanson lives in Kona.
Hello Solardude,

Thxs for the headsup, but my Mom is too frail for me to go anywhere, and I cannot afford a Hawaii trip.  Nonetheless, I am pulling for Jay's conference to be a big success as I consider him to be the WWWeb's original Master-Blaster in regards to Overshoot & Peak Everything.  Hopefully, those attending will do write-ups to post on TOD & EnergyBulletin [Nate, Darwinian, AMPOD?]

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

Can't believe this isn't already posted...we've got at least 25 years till Peak Oil according to our favorite oil man :>


What do Pulitzers have to do with Geology?

There's two entire threads devoted to that story.  Plus, it was discussed in yesterday's DrumBeat.
My apoligies.  I havent had as much time to check in with school in the meat of material and tests...ughhh
Welcome To Eurabia

(Remember, CERA is betting on Geopolitics... good luck DannyBoy Yerginz.)


America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It.

*"... the (european political) establishment has "come to regard the electorate as children."

* The nanny state infantilized Europeans, making them worry about such pseudo-issues as climate change, while feminizing the males.

* (Europe's economy depends on an) inter-generational Ponzi scheme

* Eurabia." Europe's successor population is already in place and "the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be."

Meanwhile, Some people think Radical Islam is "not a threat to Europe" ... and that Israel is "not sustainable."

Magic 8-ball says, "Time will tell..."

So, Steyn (and Pipes) think that the good white folks of the world better re-invorgorate their gonads and start making babies; otherwise they'll be overrun by the brown-skinned hordes.

We all know where this one leads don't we, SOP?

...and I need to "re-invorgorate" my spelling.
Yes, apparently Steyn thinks like Putin and Ahmadinejad -  "be fruitful and multiply" or you will be overrun as you say (and/or you will run out of workers for the bottom layer your ponzi economy).

Sounds like the same old song and dance we used in the biblical days.

Leaving the moral issues aside for a moment...

This is exactly why shifting into a zero/negative growth paradigm will be next to impossible short of an event that imposes such a paradigm on people.

When one group/nation decides to slow their population growth rate, or power consumption, or economic growth, etc etc, they will be outpaced by groups that continue on a growth mindset.  Eventually the growth oriented people will take over or push out the non-growth oriented people.

Its one of the reasons I think that I don't entertain the utterly romantically naive notions that some on these forums hold on to that we need to become a non-growth/negative growth culture.  That path is guaranteed suicide and will lead another culture conquering ours.

No...  We will and need to continue to grow... or at least continue to grow until we are the last ones standing.  That or we had best figure out a way to make growth into space a feasible alternative.  If we can push into space then we may have bought ourselves another several centuries worth to delay handling the problem.  But given the current state of affairs I expect the world cultures to keep on growing until they physically can't.

Tele: I don't agree. If you examine the USA in 2006 as an example, there is very little real "growth" in the economy. What you have is wealth shifted from person to person, group to group. This can continue even as the country as a whole continues to grow poorer in real terms.To paraphrase General Patton-"Don't downsize for your country, make the other poor bastard downsize for your country".
When I say growth paradigm, its not really a short term reference in terms of just a few years.  Rather I'm talking about generational timespans.  And given that, we have pretty consistantly grown in most areas generation after generation, I think that idea pans out.  Sure you get bubbles of growth where a previous generation is larger than a subsequent generation, but I have not seen data indicating a multi-generational non/negative growth pattern, and that is what would be needed by all human populaces in tandem.

Which is why it will never happen, there will always be a culture trying to increase in numbers, even other if cultures recognize the danger in non-stop growth.  And as such the culture that grows will push out the cultures that don't.

This growth like I said applies to population, economic activity, and technological gains.

Now what may be possible is for a culture to somehow through the use of technology, maintain their hold on their land/resources by using that technology to allow a smaller population to accomplish the same things as a larger population with but fewer people.  However, that culture would have to safeguard that technology and not allow access to it by the other cultures/nations.

A prime historical example of this is the arms race.  Melee combat was the prodominant form of combat for a long time.  When the first nation to perfect and mass deploy guns came along, it changed the rules of the game.

Going further down that progression, the development of the 6 shooter again revolutionized combat.  It allowed one man to potentially take down 6 others before reloading.  That has a huge impact when you are fighting against someone using a black powder weapon.

Taking it another step, the gatling and machine guns made a single nest of men, capable of shredding entire battalions of lesser armed men.

Chemical weapons allowed mass killing from a distance.

Nuclear weapons pushes this envelope even further.  

But any time another culture can gain parity you've lost the edge, and more basic forms of growth kick in to be the dominant factor(population being chief amongst these).  That's why I fear a nuclear armed China far more than a nuclear armed Russia.  China has the bodies to absorb a massive devastation to its population.  Russia didn't.

No a nuclear attack on China would reduce it back to the state it was in 1900 pretty damned quickly.

You destroy the largest 400 or so urban centres, you have killed several hundred million people, and industry and food production and distribution would collapse.

That would take 400 warheads: the US has over 10,000 in its stockpile, Russia has over 5,000, UK has about 400 nuclear weapons (give or take), France a bit more.  Israel is estimated to have c. 250.

The US submarine missile fleet alone could destroy China as an advanced society.  Each Trident sub has 16 missiles each with up to 3 (5?) warheads.

It's meaningless to talk about 'winning' a nuclear war.  Any all out nuclear war will destroy the target society as a functioning civilisation.

Consider that we already may be "the last ones standing."
"But given the current state of affairs I expect the world cultures to keep on growing until they physically can't."

That's the point, I'd say.  Not whether you're prolific, but whether you can support your overflowing cup.  As a Thurber story one concluded, 'There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.'

  The argument of whether 'we' or 'they' will win is grown from an ancient xenophobia, but it is an illusion.  We are all able to interbreed, and though most don't step that far afield, some always do, and that fact means we are still a single species and not (evolutionarily speaking) in competition) .. so then whoever is on the 'outs' with the mainstream 'ethnicity'culture.. will be that much more desirable a mate to some rebellious kid within the elite, and so everyone gets to genetically tag along.

  I don't think we have much control over population, anyway (as you also said).. Human Capital is still priceless, /and we have never come close to 'solving' the Urge to Merge.. I know people who were devoutly childless.. absolutely NO interest and even a pronounced revulsion to the idea of parenting.  Then, a certain girlfriend or boyfriend enters the scene, and the music just starts, with no warning at all.  Voila! Mother Nature takes that silly little chip off another shoulder.


The EIA has just come out with the weekly inventory numbers.

Crude a build of 1.3 million barrels.

Gasoline a draw of 3.7 million barrels.

Distillates a draw of 3.6 million barrels.

This is bullish all over. Crude, unleaded gas and heating oil are all up slightly on the news.

These numbers will be available at 1PM Eastern Time here.

Inventories in Gasoline and Distillates are probably way down because imports are down. At any rate that info will be available on the web in two and one half hours.

Ron Patterson

Here's the plain text report:

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 10, 2006

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 14.9 million barrels per day during the week ending November 10, down 221,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 87.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased slightly last week compared to the previous week, averaging nearly 8.7 million barrels per day, while distillate fuel production remained relatively constant, averaging 4.0 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged nearly 9.5 million barrels per day last week, down 337,000 from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.7 million barrels per day. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged nearly 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 328,000 barrels per day last week.

And here's CNN's take on it:
Crude price rises as gasoline and distillate inventories fall more than anticipated, crude stockpiles grow more than expected.
Large stock draw and stable price.  Mmmmm?

What's the weather forecast?

SAT - if your're round, this is my new disguise and this is the big day when the biggest commodities bull run in the history of the Universe resumes.

I could not agree more.

The last 6 months, everything has gone right in terms of driving down the cost of oil.  No hurricanes, cool summer, warm winter predicted, slow down in the economy, and finally we hit the shoulder season etc...

Meanwhile oil is off it's high's but still on it's long term upward trend line.

Major Oil companies are at or near all time highs (XOM, CVX, SU).

There has been a burst of publicity for non-scalable solutions like ethanol and CTL and Oil Shale.  A proverbial smoke screen if ever there was one.

The big oil fields are starting to show their age.  Production from Cantarell and the North Sea are dropping.

The new big "finds" that are hyped to death are in reality quite small or incredibly difficult to produce or both.  (Jack)

There's no doubt in my mind that prices are headed higher.

Then again - I'm often wrong.

OK, I really want to invest in commodities (mostly oil and grains), but I don't know how to begin. I've done some research and know that I:
  1. Don't want to lose any more than I invest (I believe I can accomplish this by using options instead of straight futures).
  2. I don't want to pay fees and commissions through the teeth.
  3. I don't want to have to manage the investments constantly. I'd like to go long on these commodities, so I'd like to just sink a bunch of money into them and wait 5 years, doing not much more than checking in once a month.

Is what I'm looking for out there? Any recommendations on how to proceed? Know any good brokers who will explain all this to me and help me out without taking my shirt?

Tom A-B

Derivative trading is dangerous.  I know you know this, but even when discussing this with serious traders, they all say options are NOT for the faint of heart.  I have read some serious essays on how to set up genius ways to almost guarantee profits on both the up and downside through a combination of stock purchases/short and buying/shorting calls/puts.  It's amazing, but only works when dealing with LOTS of cash because you are arbitraging for risk free gains.  The best part of options trading though is the leverage you can employ ontop of the leverage inherent in derivatives trading.

Having said all that I would love to do the same as you only I'm limited by my demographic place in life.  I am asking that all people who want to know what toget me, get me a silver liberty eagle coin or any pure silver coins in $20 denominations.  I'll hang on as long as possible.  

I'd be interested in hearing other opionions on this as well, but here take:

You may want to look into ETFs if you're going to buy and hold.

There is USO for oil, GLD & SLV for precious metals, and DBC for commodities. XLE is an energy ETF which has been doing pretty consistently well recently. You may also want to check out CPO for corn.

As for low commissions, I opened up a Scottrade account a couple of years ago because they were the best deal I could find. Low trades ($7 per) and no monthly/maintenance fees. You can basically just plop you're money in there and only worry about the market, not your broker siphoning monies.

I there's been a recent development with more budget brokers, so you may want to do more research. From what I've seen they charge monthly fees to give you low or zero per trade costs. (I'd be interested to hear from anyone on the budget broker front.)

As for a live broker, running trades through live brokers is usually pretty expensive. Compare $42 at Scottrade vs. $7 doing it yourself through their web interface.

Do your own research, get opinions, and execute the trades yourself.

On this board, SAT is probably one to talk to, but I have a feeling he keeps his cards to his chest. :)

Finally, it looks from where I'm standing we're seeing a resurgence in tech stocks, but with the economy and debt as it is, it may be risky. I just don't know enough to make that call.

Good luck!


Here are some sites I read:

http://www.dismally.com - Perspective from a currency trader. Interesting analysis, and doesn't look like he's out to sell you anything.



http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/ - Really interesting to read and is definitely bearish. May lean a little towards tinfoilish, but very well written.

When reading online, always be careful of who is trying to sell you what. They may have a financial stake in convincing you of one thing while the market is doing something else.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone else can recommend more reading.


321gold is worth it just for the Mogambo Guru.
What's especially nice about 321 and Mogambo is that you don't even have to read them. You already know the message. Buy gold, buy gold, buy gold.
you might want to look at foreign exchange (forex) trading.  you can fund with low amounts (~$250), and the only cost is the buy/sell spread on the currency.  Plus, it is fun (if you are on the right side of the currency movement.
A Groucho moustache and a kilt is a disguise?
These weekly inventory figures are helpful, but they cover the U.S. only, and the U.S. is only 25% of the global market. Does anyone know of a good way to get a handle on global inventories? If there was a way to get a weekly approximation on global inventories, that would really be valuable.
The latest EIA data are showing a continued slide in total US petroleum imports, which began right at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  If the US wants to continue consuming petroleum products at our current rate, we are going to have oubid some other consumers.  As I have been saying for some time, the next round of bidding won't be so easy as the last round.
You can get the current import data by clicking on text, by supply:  http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/info_glance/crudeoil.html
Hi WT, yes, YTD crude + product imports are down 0.7%. But YTD crude only imports are up 0.7%. But, is 0.7% such a big deal either way?
Magic 8 Ball says: stop reading into numbers that only support your side of the argument :P
100% Refinery capacity in the US is about 17 Million Brl's/d  
The problem is runs to refineries were running at 87.3% that's down about 6% or 1 million Brl's/d, had the extra 6% been run another 7million Brl's would have been required for the week. Then the Crude inventory build would not have been 1.3 million it would have been a 5.7 million Brl draw. Since production was about flat that means more imports were required. 5.7 million Brl's of crude will not provide 7.3 million Brl's of product to maintain product inventories. So currently we are not importing enough to cover our consumption.
Some interesting YTD (313 days) daily average changes:

  • crude production:  -96 kbpd
  • crude imports:      +71 kbpd
  • NGL:                 +131 kbpd
  • product imports:  -156 kbpd

(Net -50 kbpd)

So increases in crude imports and NGL production don't offset declines in crude production and product imports. Hence the draw of 17 Mb in total stocks (= approx 50 kbpd * 313 days)

OK, just figured out one way to align this kind of thing - use HTML "tt" tags in auto-format mode!

YTD (313 days) 2006 v 2005. All units kbpd:

crude production:   -96
crude imports:      +71
NGL:               +131
product imports:   -156

-50 kbpd * 313 days ~= storage drop of 17M barrels.

absolutely true. Do you think that declining imports in Q4  reflect the fact of other countries getting more oil on lower prices throug fixed contracts or other mechanisms ? Or have orders for crude oil from the US declined in August and September because of an anticipated (but contradicted) lower consumption ?

I also see the imports of finished gasoline at its lowest while the stock of finished gasoline is at a historical low of 110500 kb. This may not be worrysome as Robert Rapier said. Some of the blending components can readily been put through blenders to make the stuff in almost real time. But we should remind us that half of the blending components are ethanol, not so easily converted to gasoline. And still, the ultimate buffer of gasoline depletes fast ... policy or inability to keep up with consumption ?

P.S. I tried to correlate even and uneven years with the variation of the retail price of gasoline but I haven't found any correlation until now.

There is currently a "disconnect" between gasoline and oil prices (e.g., using WTI Cushing).  It started during the campaign season of 2004.  Oil prices went up through the summer of 2004 while gasoline prices headed lower or flattened.  Gasoline's cost increased just before the 2004 election to resume tracking oil prices.  

Gasoline and oil prices have not reconnected and resumed their long-term relationship, though they got close during the Katrina/Rita aftermath.  

Other than the election campaign, I can't find anything that suddenly devalued gasoline relative to oil (or made other products more valuable).  

The only other decouplings of gas and oil prices occurred in the late 1997 through 1998 period (gasoline prices were much higher relative to oil but that reflected the base of taxes incleded in gasoline's price as oil fell through $20/barrel) and during the first Gulf War.  But for all other times gasoline and oil prices have been highly correlated.  

Usins a simple proportionality gasoline prices should be more than $3.25/gallon.  Using other least square regressions, gasoline should be anywhere from $0.25-0.40/gallon than they are currently.  

But I have discovered something useful.  

If you want to know what the average price of gasoline will be for the calendar year (nationally over all formulations), whatever the 15th week report of prices are will put you, on average, within 2% of the year long average.  Even under the current decoupling, this relationship appears true.  

Overall US oil/product inventories (including commercial + SPR) have dropped 35 million barrel drop in 35 days.

The Oil Daily quotes the EIA a week or so ago as stating the 'drawdown of inventories over the next two months will be twice as fast as normal (16 million barrels)'.

The OPEC cutbacks haven't even shown up in crude imports yet (in the US).  I think the EIA will be revising down their estimate of where inventories will be soon.    

Can I lure you into commenting about China's (and others') use of long-term purchase agreements?  It seems to me this would, over time, remove a fixed or rising amount of oil from "the market" (or more specifically, from the declining export base, per your net export capacity model).

What fraction of oil is traded this way?  How would it affect conclusions developed from your Declining Net Export analysis?  I can only imagine it would make things worse in the US.

Welcome back west texas. i am glad hogthar did not completly chase you off.
That "Tap US sources" article ran in my local paper.  I sent them a response, which I also posted to my site:


Your response is excellent!
Beware the Russian bear!

No, I mean that literally.  The weather is so unseasonably warm in Russia that the bears are not hibernating.

Insomniac bears are roaming the forests of southwestern Siberia scaring local people as the weather stays too warm for the animals to fall into their usual winter slumber.

...Hunters, out in the woods stalking birds and hares now that the hunting season is open, need protection from restless bears the most, she added.

"We have observers who ensure there are no attacks on hunters."

Bears den in dry places usually covered by snow, and wet weather makes finding a suitable "bedroom" for the winter difficult.

Russian media reported that in the Kemerovo region and other areas, normally cold and snowy by now, there are fresh buds on trees and some flowers have blossomed for the second time this year.

OK, here in Berlin we are not in Sibiria and we have no bears (only in the city's emblem). But tomorrow we expect temperatures around 18°C, which is far beyond any average time in November. Good to save heating costs...however thinking about climate change makes me more and more nervous....
At the same time it is the socalled environmentalists in Europe who do the most damage to the climate, like this news from Bulgaria. And how do you think this gap will get filled, can you spell C-O-A-L.
The Soviets were fast and loose with their nuclear designs.  The VVER design they're talking about apparently represents some concessions to international best practices like a blast sheild, but not enough safety systems to assure EU member state Greece.

Given the need, I would favor a temporary shutdown to implement better safety systems and try to bring the plant (whose pressurized water design isn't inherently unstable like the RMBK's at Chernobyl) up to Western standards, myself.

I am Bulgarian.

I know almost from first hand what is the situation in Kozloduy, and I have also visited the plant personally. The truth is that units 3 and 4, that are about to be shut down are much more advanced designs that 1 and 2 which were shut down in 2004. The major difference is that 1 and 2 lacked containment vessels that would prevent radioactive material to escape into environment in case of a meltdown.

During the last 15 years a relatively poor country like Bulgaria invested some 1 bln.euro in the modernization of the plant and 3&4 were the most invested units. We have been heavily inspected by all the international agencies you can think of - IAEA, EU energy commission etc. The conclusion was the same after each inspection - the units are meeting the european standards for safety.

The current outcome was entirely politically motivated. The greens from Germany and our neighbour Greece, as well as the French which are building a nuclear plant in the northern neighbor - Romania forced it upon us as a condition for joining EU. The good news is that the Bulgarian government started the procedure of finishing the other nuclear plant that was started prior to the collapse of socialist countries in 1989 - the one in Belene.

The greens apply pressure, but isn't a big part of it economic?  Wouldn't France love to sell you a replacement reactor?
Of course. But they are mostly hoping to sell to Romania, which has been their long-lasting partner. By reducing the exportable capacity in the region someone will have to fill the gap, and that someone must buy reactors.

It is a rarely spoken topic in western media, but it has been long suspected that within EU, Eastern Europe will be designated to take the burden of accepting more polluting or politicaly unacceptable productions, which on the other hand provides a good market for western companies. For us this is not so bad, as these countries are starved for investments, but it is not quite clear what will be the price for the enviroment.

winces at the word mixup caused by thinking about failure modes
<strikethrough>blast shield</strikethrough>  containment vessel
 With the blast shield down, I can't even see.  How am I supposed to fight?
You must feel the force flowing through you...
I don't know about the neighbours, but the coal we have in Bg is quite poor quality lignite. We are making up the shortfall with imports from Russia and Poland, but AFAIK there have been recently problems with that, especially from Russia.

We are posiioned very well for nuclear, because we have a long history of relations with Russia - they are providing us with the reactors and the fuel and are taking care of the spent fuel. A perfect example of what international nuclear cooperation should look like, and how a country like Russia can very well benefit from its specialisation.

I understand you point on warming, but have to say a few words about bears.
When a foreigner reads such articles he/she maybe assumes that bears are roaming on streets in Siberia. I have to disenchant you. To meet a wild bear is extremely rare event in the life of average russian. I had been living in a small workers' settlement in the western Siberia for 11 years (all my school years) and never saw a bear (nor elk, lynx, sable...) - only hares and squirrels, despite the fact that me and my pals passed almost all the free time in the woods.
Actually, I suspect the average American would be surprised to hear there are streets in Siberia.  ;-)

Encounters with wild bears are not unusual in the U.S.  Though it's just black bears, mostly. They get in people's garbage, and excite motorists who drive by them on highways.  Occasionally, one gets hit by a car.  A friend of mine had her car completely totaled when she hit a black bear twice.  She was going about 55 mph, hit the bear, then hit it again when it landed in front of her car.  The bear got up and ran off so fast the wildlife officials couldn't track it.  

And here's a photo of someone's family cat treeing a young bear:

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the picture--LOL!  My guess is the young bear was more scared by the photographer, or other humans standing around off picture, than the cat.  I think if conditions were different that cat would probably be a bear's snack!  Hope the humans shortly ignored the bear so he could climb down and amble off into the woods--or did someone shoot him?

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

No, it was the cat!  Here's an article, with a bigger photo.  

The neighbors actually saw the bear being terrorized by the cat, and went and knocked on the owner's door, so she could call her cat inside.

That is one of the best and funniest pics I have seen in a long time! reminds me of my cat, an orange tabby cat too, mine was so badass that the squirrels would not come on the property line and stayed off the property for 2 weeks after he died! Probably thought he was lurking in the shadows somewhere!
 Thanks for the pic!
Does the tabby answer to the name of Greebo?
From the "Congressional peak oil caucus responds" article linked above:

A major flaw in the CERA report is its reliance upon questionable assessments of global reserves by the USGS. USGS estimates of future world reserves equate a 50 percent probability with a 50th percentile or mean. That is a bizarre and totally inaccurate use of statistics.

(( meanwhile our scientifically illiterate congress awaits further reports:))

"I look forward to two forthcoming reports about peak oil to move this policy debate forward," said Congressman Bartlett. "A report that I requested from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is expected in early 2007."

Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman commissioned a report by the National Petroleum Council (NPC) expected to be released in mid-2007."

(( and in the meantime, CERA prays to the godz of "geopolitics, conflict, economics and technology"...))

Yesterday's Drumbbeat (or the days before) had more "lets build nuke plants!" comments.


He was supposed to simulate a terrorist attack on the facility. However, his bosses told him to "go easy". Instead, he hit right to the greatest security flaw in the facility, the spent fuel pools. He came in on a boat from the Hudson bay, took out two guards, and lobbed a mock incendiary into the pool. I don't remember the issue, but the analysis showed that the entire new england area would be dead, and the entire eastern seabord would have dangerous radiation poisioning in a short amount of time.

Antoher example of the 'failure mode' that gets ignored.

Egads, someone doesnt know what they're talking about. You're going to get sufficient fission product dispersal from man portable incindaries? A giant mess to be sure, but this 'entire new england area would be dead' canard is at best a euphamism for real estate prices.
Right, to get dispersal you have to get the zirconium cladding on the fuel rods to burn underwater, or drain the water. The rods don't melt on their own from radioactive decay because the short term isotopes decay almost immediately after the reactor is shut down for overhaul and refueling. Now if you replaced the water in the cooling ponds with silicone oil, I bet it would be even more proof against attack. Radiolysis of silicone would be a problem, but probably not that big of a problem.
2. Vulnerability of the Spent Fuel Storage Facility

Terrorist action against the spent fuel storage facility could result in a catastrophic failure of the containment system. NRC has never established that the Indian Point spent fuel storage facility is secure against foreseeable attacks. Likewise, the Commission cannot be certain that the structure of the storage facility is sufficiently sound to preclude the possibility of a spent fuel fire in the event of an airborne, land, or water based assault.

NRC has not properly evaluated the consequences of terrorist attack on the spent fuel storage area. In a study conducted by the NRC in October 2000, it stated that:

the risk analysis in this study did not evaluate the potential consequences of a sabotage event that could directly cause off-site fission product dispersion, for example, a vehicle bomb driven into or otherwise significantly damaging the SFP [Spent Fuel Pool], even after a zirconium fire was no longer possible."[16]

A likely result of an aircraft crashing into a spent fuel storage facility, or of a truck bomb explosion similar to that which destroyed the Alfred E. Murrow Federal Building, would be a precipitous loss of cooling water in the spent fuel pools. During the course of normal operation, the presence of cooling water reduces heat produced by the decaying fuel rods and minimizes the potential for fire in the fuel cladding. In the absence of cooling water, adequate air circulation through the spent fuel storage racks is necessary to prevent such a fire.Partial dewatering of the storage pools will block this air flow, especially if the racks are damaged or obstructed by falling debris or the force of an explosion.

A reduction of cooling water in the spent fuel pools could lead to a catastrophic release of radiation. As the water in the fuel pool is reduced the remaining water will heat up and evaporate.This could expose the zirconium cladding which surround the spent fuel rods to oxygen and steam, resulting in an exothermic reaction that will lead to a spent fuel rod assembly fire. This event would release deadly amounts of radiological material and toxic fumes. The NRC October 2000 report stated:

This reaction of zirconium and air, or zirconium and steam is exothermic (i.e., produces heat). The energy released from the reaction, combined with the fuels decay energy, can cause the reaction to become self-sustaining and ignite the zirconium. The increase in heat from the oxidation reaction can also raise the temperature in adjacent fuel assemblies and propagate the oxidation reaction. The zirconium fire would result in a significant release of the spent fuel fission products which would be dispersed from the reactor site in the thermal plume from the zirconium fire. Consequence assessments have shown that a zirconium fire could have significant latent health effects and resulted (sic) in number of early fatalities.[17]

(Nov 2001 report on said location)

Yes, a giant mess, with lots of panic and relatively little health effects outside the immediate vicinity. You can cause far more loss of life by blowing up a natural gas terminal.
Following the link, the quoted text is attributed to an unspecified article in Playboy.  Maybe the magazine has changed its focus in the years since the last issue that I read, but I doubt it :-)
My dad always said he read Playboy for the articles.  Gee, maybe he was telling the truth!  
At some point today I realized that the song I happened to be listening to was suspiciously applicable to TOD + Kunstler.  At this point I thought I was reading too much into the vague lyrics and promised to take a break from TOD, but then I saw the video - which attacks the agoraphobia / social avoidance of suburban living, and how it has to end soon.  I highly recommend their CD (though the rest isn't on this topic), download it here for free.
They had a song when I was in high school.  I read their reasons for offering the album for free and they mentioned how hard it is got a has been one hit wonder to claw back into the mainstream.
I'm curious if there is enough data available (or even consensus of opinion) as to whether the much discussed OPEC production cuts are real, or if they are just excuses for declines already happening?  Any thoughts?
One of my recent technology-research-whims has been alternative engine designs - apparently there are quite a few out there other than traditional gasoline(Otto) cycle and diesel cycle engines.

I've written about strong hybrids with a modular genset before - since on average one only needs perhaps 15 horsepower, battery techs are advancing,and most trips can be done on plug-in juice.

The barrier seemed to be finding an engine that can do 15 horsepower efficiently and still be vaguely man-portable for modularity, so everyone isn't forced to use a crane or a trailor every time they want to go to the beach for the weekend.

At some point between reading about the Bourke engine and a daydream about a magnetic coilgun, I came up with the idea of a two-sided combustion chamber with one cylinder, generating electricity by ping-ponging from one chamber to the other, moving through an inductive alternator.  No lateral forces involved, no camshafts, no gears.  Just a pair of intake and exhaust valves, fuel injectors, and perhaps a spark plug on each end of the cylinder.

Simplest generator imaginable in the electromagnetic age.  Terribly high power to weight ratio since the vast majority of the parts of an engine or generator are eliminated.

And mostly impractical until we developed neodymium magnets and electronic ignition in the 80's.

After several hours of rabid googling, I found I'd been beaten on the idea by 7 years, by someone at Sandia.


A prototype achieved fifty six percent thermal efficiency on propane and natural gas.

I wonder what it would get with BMW's Turbosteamer cogen system.  The inventor seems to be pushing it as a way to kill NOX emissions, but those kind of thermal efficiency numbers are serious business in and of themselves. Particularly if the engine is tiny.


In other news for the same target segment, the military has a strong hybrid jeep in the works, the MP Hybrid, using a new way of arranging a diesel engine which seems to shrink a diesel by 75% in volume and mass for the same power.  It gets 50mpg.  It uses the motor as a briefcase-sized luggable genset on a vehicle that's somewhere between a lowpowered utility microcar and a jeep, to be removed and used as a camp generator if needed.  Imagine several of these engines being installable in your car, depending on the circumstances, and being able to start them up seperately.

They plan on doing dual commercial-military apps, with a pricetag of $20k.

There are several proposed engines that enter the acceptable power:weight ratio like the MYT's rotary approach, but none seem to be as far along as the MP Hybrid's engine.

Saw a couple a month ago at the SAE commercial truck show.  One was a strange "split cycle" engine (otto, but intake and compression were done in 1 cylinder, and the other cylinder did combustion and exhaust)... looked a bit stupid.  Then I saw this one (think steam engines of the past)...

Kinda different... Don't know if it's applicable in the real world, but supposedly it's light, and can vary fuel consumption based on load. Probably still a pipedream in reality.

I don't remember the reason already but somewhere I ready that a thermal engine (which transforms thermal energy into kinetic using temperature difference) has a theroetical maximum efficiency of 50%. A CCNG plant achieves higher efficiency by performing a second cycle on the exhaust gases.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Now, leaving aside the scepticism I think that this could be an incredible invention for enabling extended range plug-in hybrids. For example for daily commuting you can charge your car at home and for a longer drive, the power can be provided both by the batteries and the Sandia device.
I'm not entirely sure when a carnot heat engine is taken as the maximum achievable efficiency, and when that limitation doesn't apply.

But when it does, it's entirely dependant on temperature differences and compression ratios (pressure differences), not fixed at 50%.

Most thermal engines have maximum efficiency based on usable materials that isn't close to the 'theoretical maximum'


The problem is we use heat engines that have a hot end of maybe 1000C and a cold end of maybe 400, and of course we dont have perfect thermal transfers in the real world so we have other losses. We could do much better if we had materials that could stand up to the heat and not corrode, or if we can use electromagnetic confinement to spare the walls while doing magnetohydrodynamic energy generation. An interesting topic for the plasma core reactors of the far future perhaps.

Linear alternators have bad power/mass ratio because their average speed is low. Go to sunpower.com and look for a paper by Redlich which gives the true scoop on linear alternator design.  Basic physics, can't get around it.
Hi Wimbi, did you see this on Green Car Congress? Solar concentrators and Stirling engines (free-piston no less, isn't that what you advocate?).

Also, how are your Stirling experiments coming on?

Yeah, my idea wasn't terribly well-researched, I was just surprised that an indistinguishable concept had been given an engineering award, with too-good-to-be-true efficiencies noted.  Perhaps I'm just misinterpreting a badly written report.
Were you speaking of "a summary of 20 years experience with linear motors and alternators"?
Yes.   And with regard to the note about Infinia solar free piston, I see again that the comments attached, as always, show a lot of confusion and off-the-cuff pronouncements that are a mish-mash of verifiable  truth and  sometimes empty speculation.

Let the TRUTH come out!   Let's have a shoot-out-drop-dead competition on a hot desert afternoon in New Mexico, and see who wins the solar-electricity competition.  $/watt is the target, nothing else matters.  Of course I am talking about REAL $, that is, sum of all costs to put the world back together after the thing is done.

I'm not sure who I would bet on.  Way to find out  -- in the rear view mirror after the contest.

As for my little recreational efforts- every day great idea, every next day, turned out to be stupid,  day after, another great idea--------.
But it's my money, so, no worse than golf.

Executive summary.  Did I really say one kilowatt?  Don't look at that wattmeter- Actually, it's busted.   Concentrate on how quiet the whole thing  is.

I think your objections are in the implementations of a linear alternator for a sterling piston - what I proposed is to completely eliminate pistons in an internal combustion engine, using a linear alternator.  Internal combustion engines are known to operate at thousands of RPM, over a significant displacement and compression ratio - and in an Internal Combustion Linear Alternator (let's call it ICLA) the speed of the piston would be significant.

The problems mentioned in the pdf involve the required airgap of a sterling piston, eddy currents in the steel casing (which can be mitigated by modern composites or non-ferrous metals),  and problems with using weak magnets or moving coil alternators.

I don't see how anything but the eddy currents apply - and that could be dealt with in several ways.

The next generation of Swedish armoured wehicles will be a hybrid wehicle:


Check google or greencarcongress
for the "Bonner" engine ..
Sounds like your idea ..

Triff ..

Take a look at the history of steam cars, especially the Dobie.


It's well understood amongst historians of technology that 'the better guy lost' in the Otto cycle (Internal Combustion Engine) v. Steam Engine debate.

The big gain seems to be you don't need that transmission to gear down a 1000+ RPM engine to rotate the wheels.  Steam power tractors also still win tug-o-wars against diesel powered ones at country fairs (more torque).

A steam-electric car could produce, I suspect, really extraordinary energy efficiencies.

NASA has been running a series about paleoclimatology. The latest installment just became available. Links in the right sidebar go to earlier articles in the series.
Regarding the article

More green energy use could cut costs, study finds

The RAND report is here:

Impacts on U.S. Energy Expenditures of Increasing Renewable Energy Use (PDF file)

It is a dense 93-page report, not a casual read. Here is the first paragraph from the executive summary:

The debate on use of renewable energy has largely centered on the tensions between some seeing renewables as socially desirable and others seeing them as economic losers. Even advocates for renewable energy based on environmental benefits have had to acknowledge that solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, and biomass fuels have been too expensive to compete economically with nonrenewable fossil fuels on a broad scale.

.. so if the RE crowd concedes that it's expensive (in the short term, anyway..) did the other side have to concede anything?

Myth: Solar electricity is too expensive.
There is a huge public misconception that solar energy is
simply too expensive to bother with. The reality is that, both
on and off-grid, solar energy is cost effective in many
Right out of the gate, it's important to understand that
on-grid, a substantial amount of "smoke and mirrors" is
going on behind the scenes, making true energy cost
comparisons unfair at best. The historical trend shows
U.S. federal energy subsidies favoring mature energy
sources like coal and nuclear over renewable sources by a
factor of one hundred to one. A report based on U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) data by the Congressional
Research Service (CRS) states, "Because the great bulk of
incentives support mature fossil and nuclear equipment,
the existing subsidy structure markedly distorts the
marketplace for energy in a direction away from
The bottom line is that renewable energy appears to be
more expensive than traditional electricity generation
sources, but the reality is that you pay the difference every
year come tax time. If you include the costs of increased
pollution, habitat destruction, health care costs, etc., then
RE looks even better. Fortunately, many individual states
are doing what the feds refuse to do, and are implementing
rebate programs for renewables that serve to even out the
financial playing field a bit. For some great economic
analyses of the cost effectiveness of grid-tied PV, see the
article by Greg Bundros in HP99 and the article by Paul
Symanski in this issue.
Off-grid, people have been realizing the financial
advantages of solar energy for more than a decade. Property
beyond the reach of the utility grid is typically undervalued,
and a great investment. We're not necessarily talking about
living "out in the sticks." A good rule of thumb is that a
solar-electric system costs less than a utility line extension of
a quarter mile (0.4 km) or more.
I had the local utility provide me with an estimate for
running a line to my off-grid home site (though I was
never going to take them up on it!). They came up with a
cost figure of US$32,000. I used this estimate as leverage
when I purchased the property, which substantially
lowered the seller's asking price. From day one,
renewable energy technology saved me over US$10,000
compared to bringing the grid in. How's that for an
   homepower.com  (Issue #100)

Bob Fiske

I recommend reading EIA's Week in Petroleum While most here will disagree with their IMO politically motivated long term prediction for peak oil, the guys (or women) doing the day to day analysis present a thoughtful review. This week they discuss inventory levels. Last week they predicted higher prices.
Aramco Maintains Premiums for 2007 Diesel, Jet Fuel

Saudi Aramco informed buyers that export contracts would be for six months between January and June, because the company is uncertain about export volumes for the second half of 2007, said the traders who asked not to be identified. In previous years, Saudi Aramco sold its gasoil and jet fuel under one-year contracts.

The company may export 20 percent less jet fuel and 40 percent less diesel in 2007 from this year, traders said.

Now, a dumb technical question on the EIA data:

Gasoline inventories down 3.7 million barrels (>500k b/d)

Yet, gasoline production + imports was 9.77 mb/d for the week while demand was only 9.11 mb/d for the week.  What is the explanation for why their numbers would imply an increase in inventories though they actually decreased?  The same is true for each of the past two months, so clearly there's an adjustment of some sort that's needed to interpret the different pieces of the report.


For your eyes and anyone else you can con into reading this.  


Funny and right up several folk's alleys.  TOD centric post.........

 The young lady is selling door to cleaning products and I ask her if I can drink it and she says no.  I chuckle and hand the bottle back to her.  Yummy eyes she had I love the eyes of the people I talk too.  Anyway she gave me a list of things that were in it.  I Laugh and hand the bottle back to her. Claim I will have to go through some people, My parents don't buy things from door to door.  Yet if she were selling water everyone in town would buy it.

 Water in the right form can wash anything clean.  OIL is cut with steam,  ICE cuts mountains,  Water too,  And the oceans hold every mineral known to man in them.

 DO NOT GO OUT THERE ALONE take a FACT with you.
 Be a Para-Docs and help the childern.

LOL I am an Author at Large
 An Eagle eyed, Cat, who looks like a Bear and is as strong as an Ox.

 comments please????

The article on shale makes me embarrassed to be a Canadian.  At the twilight of his career Neil Reynolds should know more than he offers in this piece.  However, I guess after a long career he has learned how to push the company line.  Journalists are taught to put their message in the first sentence, and "pushing back peak oil" has been the consistent message of the Globe and Mail.  After that it is just gee whiz babble.  The sad thing is some bureaucrat in the DOE with a science degree might just think sticking "Fat Man" into a Wyoming mountain might just be a good idea.
In a reply above it was mentioned that road asphalt has more oil in it than kerogen.  Sometime in the future (no predictions) our descendents will mine the pavement for the hydrocarbons, maybe to make waterproof roofing material, much the same as the Britons mined the old Roman roads for building material.

A promising geothermal energy development was shot down in the 9th circuit court because the Dept. of Interior extended the lease before doing the environmental studies.  When the EIS was completed, some of the decision makers were leaning toward no action, but a department of justice memo said no-action was out of the question because that would make the government liable for breach of contract with Cal-Pine.  In spite of the adverse impacts on one Indian tribe's sacred sites, I hope this is eventually straightened out and completed.

I'm another lurker joining TOD.  I think the site is great, and quite informative.  I originaly came over after a long time at EB and following their links, which led to bookmarking...

A question for the readers, energy related tho not oil.

My water system is gravity-fed spring water.  It runs continously, and must to preclude winter freezeup(pipe travels a good distance over exposed bedrock)  My water pressure is around 95 psi, with a flow of about 10 gpm.  When I first looked into microhydro about 5 yrs ago, using a pelton wheel, I came up with with a production of about 50 watt and a installed cost of around 10,000 dollars.  Not cost effective enough for me.  Anyone know of new technologies that might make this system more cost effective?    

MHyLab designed a 100 watt small hydro for a French company to sell for cabins.  No idea on price, but should be less than $10,000.

Also Yahoo has Microhydro group (I am inactive member).

Join & ask there.

Best Hopes,


Real Goods has hydropower equipment. ...
Google is your friend:

Ampair's 100 watt Aquair UW water generator for $1,280

Oops, you wanted gravity fed: upto 1 kW ES&D Dual Nozzle Stream Engine Turbine for $1,895


Your links are bad.  They go to bankrate...


These microhydros look interesting
with a choice of size and AC/DC.
Hello TODers,

Is a Ukrainian food vs Russian fuel war starting?

This link is headlined, "Announcement of ambassadors of Germany, the USA and Netherlands concerning limitations for grain export introduced by Ukraine" :
We, the Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United States of America wish to convey our concerns regarding the implementation of grain export restrictions by the government of Ukraine....

...While we understand the Ukrainian government's concerns for food security, the justifications for grain export restrictions have not been convincing. Estimates from a variety of credible sources indicate that this year's wheat harvest is in line with normal historical averages at around 14 million tons. Despite the availability of wheat, the State Grain Reserve made no new purchases grain in the month since the export restrictions were announced.

We also fail to understand how food security can explain the government's decision to limit exports of feed grains such as barley and corn. Ukraine's barley crop, according to all available estimates, is significantly higher this year than last year. Ukraine's farmers should be able to take full advantage of international markets to sell that crop.

We recommend that the government of Ukraine repeal the harmful export restriction policies.

Ambassador of Germany in Ukraine - Reinhard Schefers

Ambassador of the USA William Taylor

Ambassador of the Netherlands Ron Keller

From the [CIA Factbook https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/up.html] for Ukraine:
After Russia, the Ukrainian republic was far and away the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR. Ukraine depends on imports of energy, especially natural gas, to meet some 85% of its annual energy requirements. Shortly after independence was ratified in December 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Loose monetary policies pushed inflation to hyperinflationary levels in late 1993. Ukraine's dependence on Russia for energy supplies and the lack of significant structural reform have made the Ukrainian economy vulnerable to external shocks. A dispute with Russia over pricing led to a temporary gas cut-off; Ukraine concluded a deal with Russia in January 2006, which almost doubled the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas, and could cost the Ukrainian economy $1.4-2.2 billion and cause GDP growth to fall 3-4%.

From this link:
In case we will be confident the country possesses enough grain supplies, we will abolish all the restrictions, introduced earlier, Mykola Azarov said. In turn, Vice Prime Minister Andriy Kliuyev stated his opinion, that licensing grain export enabled to avoid price hike for bread. Thus the Agrarian Policy Minister faced a choice, either to impose quoting and provide Ukraine with sufficient amounts of bread, or cut grain supplies, which will lead to twofold price boost for bread.

Are world grain supplies reaching a critical level where hoarding is now essential?

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

Hello TODers,

Here is another interesting link:
Russia will be a major agricultural power in the 21st century

Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeyev talks with MN's Dmitry Dokuchayev about this year's harvest and national priority project.

Has the national project had any impact on the sector so far?

Needless to say, the project will not automatically resolve all problems that have accumulated in the agro-industrial sector. Furthermore, many of these problems remain outside the national project. For example, the so-called price disparity - i.e., the rapid rise in energy prices. Or the expansion of foreign producers on the Russian market - in other words, our dependence on imports. Or social programs in the countryside.

But at the same time, the national priority project helps address several key problems. For instance, modernization of the stock-raising sector: Investment in the sector has quadrupled so far this year. What is even more important is that private farmers have seen that they can rely on state support. This year the number of farmers who have received preferential loans has increased 900% on last year.

Furthermore, under the national project, young specialists working in the countryside are entitled to free housing.

It would be strange if I did not ask you about this year's harvest.

Generally, the results are quite good, especially considering bad weather conditions. We will harvest 73 million metric tons of grain. This is enough to meet our domestic needs and maintain our export potential (about 10 million tons). The vegetable, potato and sugar beet harvest will also be good. On the whole, gross agricultural produce will grow this year, even if slightly, compared with last year.

Ok, I admit that I am no ag-expert, but with good harvests this year, why does he state Russian dependence on food imports? I am confused, just as I am confused why Ukraine needs to hoard their harvest, too.  Any experts out there in TODland to clear this issue up for me?

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

I'm not an ag expert, especially on the Russian situation, but a couple of comments may help explain the hoarding.

Grain stockpiles are gone, with Lester Browne stating a total window of only 57 days.  This year the Australian drought cut grain yields dramatically in that country, forcing them to have very little for export.  The markets in the US shot up.  Soft white wheat topped 5.10 a bushel, hard red topped 5.80.  Not since the Russian wheat deal of the 70's have wheat prices gone so high.  Locally, most farmers are hedging their bets, holding their grain in case of higher prices.  Even oats almost increased 50% this fall from prices last year. Last fall I bought local oats delivered at 100/ton, now you can't find them.  

A compounding factor in the US grain markets is the number of ethanol plants started this year, projected to grow even more this winter and spring.  Taking all that corn out of animal feedstuffs  forces us to look to other grains, and their price rises.

Hello Doug Fir,

Thxs for responding with the 57 days stockpile info. A Just-In-Time [JIT] food delivery system doesn't work when it takes more than 57 days to grow a grain crop.

This controversial link argues that TPTB have started Globalization's Policy of Famine:
Wheat Supplies Plunge

Each year, the October world harvest report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides an occasion to review the crop-by-crop status of global production, stocks, trade, and consumption. This year, alarm bells are ringing. The statistics in the Oct. 12 USDA's "World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates" show that the 2006 world production level for what's called, "total grains"--wheat and all other grains combined--is below the average annual level of world grain consumption, for the sixth year, out of the last seven. Therefore, world stockpiles have been drawn down to the level of shortages. In particular, wheat stocks are expected to drop to their lowest level in 25 years, in absolute tonnage terms. Therefore, on a per capita basis, even lower; i.e., below required human consumption levels.

Three features of the situation are important to grasp. First, the extreme dimensions of the crisis. Secondly, how globalization and the cartel "players" are acting to cause food insecurity. And lastly, how insane it is for policy-makers to propose using food and feed crops for biofuels, in the face of the current shortages.

Here is a Canadian viewpoint too:
Is Global Warming an Intentional "De-population" strategy?

Harper Government's policies consistent with U.S. right wing "Brave New World" perspectives

Garth Turner, who is a Member of Parliament, rebelled against the Stephen Harper minority government policies on Global Warming.

It is apparent that the Stephen Harper minority government is well aware of the Global Warming phenomenon; but has refused to substantively redress this vital human survival issue.

EIR reported in its March 10, 1981 issue, on an alleged Haig-Kissinger "Global 2000" "de-population" plan. This alleged "Global 2000" report sought to reduce the world's population by 2 billion people "through war, famine, disease and any other means necessary...", including Global Warming. EIR also further reported in their submission that "There is a single theme behind all our work -- we must reduce population levels," as stated by Thomas Ferguson, the Latin American case officer for the State Department's Office of Population Affairs (OPA).

EIR further cites "Civil wars are somewhat drawn-out ways to reduce population," the same OPA official added. "The quickest way to reduce population is through famine, like in Africa [that would also be caused by on-going Global Warming related catastrophic climate change] or through disease."

Our planet Earth is in danger from Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) Magazine, reported U.S.-led neo-conservative depopulation policies, which apparently include intentional Global Warming. Mr. Harper in Canada, appears to be copying these policies.

Apparent intentional Global Warming is also consistent with such alleged active "depopulation" policies cited by EIR, which are designed to pit group against group, in areas like the Middle East, and other parts of the World, where there are often precious natural resources.

Global Warming will cause our planet to become far less hospitable for billions of people, who will perish from such famine and related disease, and resulting "Wars for resources", which will apparently "free-up the world's dwindling resources for elites."

So one website is far-right--the other website far-left, but maybe both are correct?  I have no idea, but I am not happy about the razor's edge of only 57 days of global grains.  Please read both links in their entirety, not just my quick summaries.

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

Rain rain rain rain rain reign its raining again, there is or was 4.5 inches of rain just last night in North Little Rock.  It is raining again, my exercise time was cut to almost nothing, caged animal I feel the blood racing around.  

 GW is putting all sorts of water, HEAT, SNOW, something in the air we breath, It reminds me of High summer I have a cough and so does my dad, winter is our time of rest from the ailments of the summer heat.  Low humidity and low heat great for us,  LOL low temps and LOTS of water, not so great for us.

 Hydro power on the river is high,  North Little Rock gets Hydro power for some of its Electricity,  We have stranded GAS I am sure in Arkansas and we have Nukes.  GEE and localization is going on full stream ahead in North Little Rock, the downtown is totally Walkable, I did it yesterday at the job fair.  

 http://www.schwansjobs.com has jobs and they use Propane in their trucks have since the founding og the company the rep said.  Lots of great things come in small localization packages.

 Thinking about cooking digging in the files of my dad's big black books his personal collections of recipes, we are still planning Thanksgiving Dinner.  After all I have a fully certified Chef living in my house, My DAD.  What better way to download his experience into my head that cook on a daily basis with him, And he is also a Trained Dietitian,  (( diet titan odd there ))So I am going to school for free, room and board profit magins not going to a school but to my parents in my experience in cooking in their diet, the fruits of the earth in their meals.

I'll have a recipe tested the first one I have that I copied off the back of a skippy jar.  I think the recipe is flawed but Have to prove it. So well will be making it soon, next week.  When the rain lets up we have a wall to put up for sorting the piles of screws we have in the carport and the other places.  His collection is like most peoples sand collections.  LOL  If he has ever needed it, he has some of them, if he has never needed it and can't find it in the piles he goes and adds to the pile.  LOL I am getting an education this year.

 More Recipes from the PO Cliff EDGE Later.
 LOL I am an Author at Large
 An Eagle eyed, Cat, who looks like a Bear and is as strong as an Ox.

 comments please????

I saw an advert on TV today which asked members of the British public to submit questions for government ministers to answer with reference to the Queen's speech. I asked:

Roger, Scarborough, UK asked
Two words. Peak oil. The consequences it may bring will be disastrous without an adequate mitigation strategy that should have been implemented yesterday!

At present, I see no efforts to address peak oil which, make no mistake, will happen sometime in the near future.

Currently, the Labour government does not publically admit peak oil is a serious issue. If anyone takes the time to check reliable sources such as IEA statistics they will see that the future of our petro-economy is looking pretty grim. Informed estimations put the oil peak at around 2012 (give or take 5 years).

I wish to know; Is the Labour Government aware of peak oil? Is the Labour Government aware of the disastrous implications that peak oil may bring? What strategies are the Labour Government implementing to prevent disaster?

The answer:

Lord Drayson, Defence Minister answered
The government is seriously addressing this issue as part of its energy policy over the next parliament. You are correct in highlighting how important this is.

Great. He could have elaborated on the policies though.

Actually, VERY good !

A senior minister said that it was  serious problem and policies were under development.  And the Defence Minister answered !  So this is not (my guess) a one portfolio policy.

I would NOT expect a detailed policy announcement on TV (just not how it is fone !)

Best Hopes,


Wow, that was pretty cool. Great question, good job.
This is very cool, but one question.  Why did the Defence Minister answer your question?  A bit scary.
Clare Durkin the head of the DTI Energy Markets group the Senior Responsible Officer for the security of energy supplies discussed this last week at the Energy Institute conference. See write up here: Energy Institute Oil Depletion Conference

Early in her presentation she dismissed discussion of peak by saying:

We can debate at great length... when the peak will come, what's going to happen with the peak but the fact is there is still an awful lot out there and it may as well not be out there if we don't have any policies of getting it from out there to where it needs to get.

She seems more concerned about maintaining our access to the production/reserves we know about rather looking at peak oil - there is a small amount of logic in there somewhere.

At the same conference last year she said there would be a government investigation but when asked where it was she had to admit that it hadn't happened, suggesting that there wasn't the resources (people and budget rather than oil!) and that other things were high priority.

Spam spam spam spam spom.

Maybe you didn't read this all the way through.  Go
down about three paragraphs.

Greetings to your family,

This letter must come to you as a big surprise, but I
believe it is only a day that people meet and become
great friends/ business partners. I am DR. IDRIS RIMI,
currently Head of #1,593 Community Farm in Burkina

I write you this proposal in good faith, believing
that I can trust you with the information I am about
to reveal to you.I have an urgent and very
confidential business proposition for you. On June
5th,2000, a German international goat herder, who is
the head the Smeely Cheese Company here in Burkina
Faso Mr.Christian Eich left 17,500 goats in my care.
These goats have since multiplide and are beginning to
overun all of Burkina Faso. Before this date, I have
tried my possible best to locate a Next of Kin to late
Mr. Eich, but all efforts prooved abortive, because
all his family, including his Son In-Law and children
died in the plane crash of Concorde
Air France Flight AF4590 which took place on 31st July
2000, some months after he left these damn goats in my

You can read more stories about the plane crash by
visiting this

With the recent deforestation of my country by these
goats and with their efforts to support the United
Nations in checkmating biological terrorism aid in
the Burkina Faso. By end of January this year, the
Federal Government and the Agricultural Government has
pass a new domestic animal terrorism Law which will
give the Government authority to interrogate all goat
owners of above 50 animals to explain the reason for
destroying our agricultural economy with these goats,
making sure it is not an act of terrorism.

If I do not move these damn goats out of the country
immediately, by December the Government will
definitely remove my precious testicles, because my
country cannot provide the people with their Playboy
renewal subscription which is a civil right in our
country.  Long live Hugh Hefner!

I decided to utilize this life time opportunity,
instead of Government cutting off my cohonis, but a
foreigners instead. That is why I am contacting you
for an assistance. As the goat hereder to late Mr.
Eich, coupled with my present position and status in
the village, I have some vital informations that can
help any foreigner that comes up as the Next of Kin to
become the scapegoat. Then I shall give you up.

I shall supply you with a Visa, airplane tickets, and
the best medical care that Burkina Faso can provide
after they remove your nuts. The transaction will be
executed under a UV light that will protect you from
any bacteria. If you accept to scape goat for me, I
want you to state how you wish us to share the
funds of the procedes from the goat barbeque that will
be held in your honor. So that both parties will be
satisfied. I shall explain to you in details how we
shall handle the transaction once I receive your

Thanking you in advance and May God blesses you.
Please, treat with utmost

I wait your urgent response.


LOL I am an Author at Large
 An Eagle eyed, Cat, who looks like a Bear and is as strong as an Ox.

 comments please????

I love the piece, Chuckles!

On a more personal note, I had a goat curry dish at a Vietnamese cafe in Pearland, a Houston suburb. First grasy goat dish I ever ate and not good. So does your Dad make good goat curry?