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By Robert Rapier on Sep 22, 2010 with 46 responses

Peak Oil Interview: Misconceptions, Replacing Oil, and False Solutions

Back in June, I gave a presentation on Peak Oil at the Global Footprint Conference in Siena, Italy. (More on the event here). Following my presentation, I was asked to do a pair of interviews. One was for an upcoming documentary called Critical Mass. The second was for the conference itself, and that interview has just been made available and is embedded below.

Peak Oil Interview for the Global Footprint Conference

Some of the ground covered in the interview includes:

  • The misconception that Peak Oil means we are running out of oil
  • The idea that oil will be very difficult to replace, and impossible to replace solely with biomass
  • The danger posed by false solutions (which I denoted the ‘fake fire brigade‘ in my presentation)
  • The difficulty the developing world will have in attaining a ‘First World‘ standard of living
  • What will happen if oil peaks soon and declines rapidly
  • The reasons for the rise in oil prices over the past decade
  • That we are now comfortable with $80 oil — and why that is dangerous
  • The fact that some “renewable energy” is mostly embedded fossil energy
  • The reason I prefer thermochemical technologies over biochemical technologies
  • The types of projects that my company is working on; primarily energy projects that can be operated on low fossil fuel inputs and ideally off the grid (i.e., projects that could provide meaningful energy in a world in which oil supplies are declining)

The venue for the interview was not in fact a prison cell, although it was in the basement of a very old building. Yes, I am squinting and frowning a lot, because the sun was coming through the window in my face. And yes, I do smile, although you may think I have no sense of humor based on this interview.

I have watched the clip a couple of times, and there are times that I misspoke, and times that I should have paused for some clarification around a point. For instance, I said that it would be impossible to replace oil with the solutions proposed thus far. I am mainly thinking of biomass; in fact it would be possible to replace many uses of oil in theory with nuclear or solar power provided certain technological challenges are conquered. I covered this idea previously in a thought experiment called Replacing Gasoline with Solar Power.

I also said that China could never attain a Western standard of living because there isn’t enough oil to allow their citizens to motorize in large numbers. Again, I am thinking in terms of the way the Western world is motorized; one could envision a high degree of mobility with small electric cars (for instance). So the point is not that it is impossible for them to motorize, but that they can’t do it as we did it because there isn’t enough oil to allow it.

The presentation itself was also filmed, and ultimately that is supposed to be available. When it is, I will post that here as well.

  1. By Perry on September 22, 2010 at 4:38 am

    I liked the interview. You touched on all the right things. If I had one criticism, it would be where you said we aren’t running out of oil, and then went into how we can’t replace oil. Nothing inaccurate there, but if we’re not running out of oil, we don’t need to replace it. Not all of it at once, anyway.

    The saving grace with peak oil is, the scope of the problem diminishes each year, assuming depletion rates are somewhat constant. The first year, we may need alternatives for 3 million bpd. 2.9 million in year two, etc. If we get through the first few years in one piece, it should be a cakewalk thereafter.

    Let’s say the worldwide depletion rate after peaking is 3% annually. Possibly, we can make up 1% through conservation. Another 1% through biofuels. And the other 1% with electric cars. To replace 1% of our transportation fleet with EV’s would mean 2.5 million vehicles. A herculean task, I know. But, if we could do it one year, we would be homefree, since each successive year would require fewer sales to accomplish the same feat.

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  2. By Mac on September 22, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Perry,

    I was just kidding about Hawaii dumping their garbage in the ocean. I was being facetious. To me, having to to go halfway round the globe to get rid of your garbage is ridiculous and absurd, so I offered a “suggestion:” equally absurd. The best thing for Hawaii might be to make electricity from their garbage as Paul mentioned, They could sell the recovered metals.

    Robert did pretty good in his interview I thought. I enjoyed seeing him in action. .Perhaps he could do a series of talks and film them.

    .

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  3. By Mac on September 22, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Robert mentioned airplanes and how we might fly them with bio-fuels.

    Boeing has tested bio-kerosene and says that it has fulfilled, even exceeded, their expectations, A spokesman for Boeing said they expect that by 2020 airlines could be using as much as 30% bio-fuels. Boeing News website.

    Airplanes can’t fly on electricity alone ? Here’s one that can ………………..Just cut and paste the reference below into the You Tube search box..

    Electric Glider Apis – EA 1 – Future now

    Just like Crocodile Dundee says “No worries, mate.”

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  4. By jerry-unruh on September 22, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Great interview Robert.  I particularly liked that you pointed out that we are going to have to use less energy in the future.

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  5. By russ-finley on September 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I followed the link to the thought exercise replacing gasoline with electricity. One of the things that seperates this blog from others is having the courage to run numbers and accepting the risk there might be an error that may need to be corrected.

    Airline travel is going to become very expensive in the future because liquid fuels are going to become very expensive. Flying is fairly low on the list of priorities and not something I will lose sleep over. There is way too much airline travel going on and overall quality of life will not be impactd by its decline. With luck, high speed rail will take up some of the slack for domestic travel.

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  6. By Benny BND Cole on September 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Well done, RR.
    I am more optimistic than you, but to each his own.

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  7. By Perry on September 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Mac said:

    Perry,

    I was just kidding about Hawaii dumping their garbage in the ocean. I was being facetious. .


     

    Same here Mac. It’s ridiculous that we have a floating pile of garbage twice the size of Texas out in the Pacific ocean. Plastics don’t break down in the water. Millions of tons of the stuff will float for 50 or 100 years before sinking. 80% of it comes from land, and floats down rivers or washes off during rain storms.

     

    “Albatross fly hundreds of miles in their search for food for their young. Their flight paths from Midway often take them over what is perhaps the world’s largest dump: a slowly rotating mass of trash-laden water about twice the size of Texas.

    This is known as the Eastern Garbage Patch, part of a system of currents called the North Pacific subtropical gyre. Located halfway between San Francisco and Hawaii, the garbage patch is an area of slack winds and sluggish currents where flotsam collects from around the Pacific, much like foam piling up in the calm center of a hot tub.”

     

    http://www.latimes.com/news/pr…..full.story

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  8. By Perry on September 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Russ Finley said:

    I followed the link to the thought exercise replacing gasoline with electricity. .

    I did too Russ. What I got from it, was that we’d need 50% more electricity to replace gasoline with solar power. BUT, we only need 12% more electricity from traditional means. 111,000 more MW, compared to the 900,000 MW we generate now. That 900,000 is peak output, so we would need even less if the cars have smart grid capability.

    Also, the plug-in Prius was expected to get 7 miles on a charge when Robert wrote the post. They say 13 miles now. Much closer to the average commute of 16 miles. The cost is expected be close to what a Prius costs now. We can do this thing if we want to. We will do this thing when we HAVE to.

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  9. By OD on September 22, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Perry, your analysis would be fine if not for the fact that most studies show decline rates excelerate YOY after peak.

    It would be my guess we will have a rollercoaster decline rate. One year might be 2%, the next 5%, then 1% the following year.

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  10. By Perry on September 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I wasn’t aware of that OD. Nevertheless, it only takes one price spike to $8 or $10 a gallon to get us on the right path. We’ll never know how many Leafs would have flown off the lots when we had $5 gas a couple years ago. But, we’ll find out soon enough.

    We can increase new car fleet mileage 30% TODAY simply by going hybrid across the board. We mandate catalytic converters and all manner of safety features. Why not fuel economy? Is it a national security issue or not? If it is, we need to start acting like it. Go hybrid, then raise CAFE standards annually. Automakers will comply by raising the mix of cars with EV capabilities.

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  11. By paul-n on September 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    The decline rate is not the only factor either.  Keep in mind that other places (china, India) are increasing consumption while we are trying to decrease.  The “unconstrained demand” is still going up.  It will be constrained by the declining supply, of course, with the inevitable rising prices.  I expect the price to rise faster than the supply declines, once it is obvious that supply is declining.

    Basically, it will be a bidding war over the shrinking pie – so even if we reduce demand just to match the decline, the $ spent (and leaving the country) will still be going up.

    We cannot run the current economy, as it is today, on alternate (liquid) fuels – we need to restructure it to use less of them.

    And as Perry says, we can do it, and do it well, if we don’t wait to the 11th hr.  But history suggests that is likely what will happen – a crisis motivates (almost) everyone – until there is one, there will be too much disagreement about what to do, and even the need to do it, to get anything major done.

    What is needed then are solutions that are not dependent upon government, but everything, and especially alternate energy/transport seems to be getting more dependent on gov, not less.

     

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  12. By mac on September 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Russ said:

    “We will do this thing when we HAVE to.”

    We went, within a matter of a few months during WWII from building automobiles to building tanks. From civilian aircraft to fighter planes and bombers. There was simply no “It can’t be done “. It was literally “do or die”

    Henry Ford told his engineers that he wanted them to build a solid block V-8 engine. It had never been done before and the engineers soon came back to Ford and one by one they recounted all the difficulties, the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and expressed doubts as to whether it could ever be done.

    Ford patiently listened. When the engineers were finished Ford simply said “Built it.” and turned and walked away. The result ?

    “In 1932, Henry Ford introduced his last great personal engineering triumph: his “en block”, or one piece, V-8 engine. Offered as an option to an improved 4-cylinder Model “B” engine in this low priced car, this compact V-8 power plant, with its down draft carburetor, enabled 1932 Ford to outperform all other popular competitors and was 20 years ahead of its time.”

    “If you say you can’t, then you can’t, but if you say you can, that is also true.” Henry Ford

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  13. By Kit P on September 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    “Is it a national security issue or
    not?”

     

    No it is not. All my life there have
    been people running around waving their arms about one crisis or the
    other. None have come to pass. The solutions that the arm wavers
    come up with are equally flawed. For example,

     

    “We can increase new car fleet
    mileage 30% TODAY simply by going hybrid across the board.”

     

    Unless real world fuel usage follows
    that prediction.

     

    The interesting things about a fake
    crisis is that you do not have to accept real solutions that might be
    adopted during a real crisis. Rationing could reduce demand quickly.
    It would have been interesting if Nixon or Carter had declared a
    buying oil embargo against OPEC along with a selling wheat embargo.

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  14. By Perry on September 22, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Kit, would you consider it a national security issue if we had a nuclear-powered economy dependent on North Korea or Cuba for uranium? What’s the difference between that and an economy subject to the whims of Iran or Venezuela? Were you here for the gas lines of the 70′s? If so, you’re aware of how quickly it can all go to s**t.

    Depending on Saudi Arabia to keep the flow of oil going is akin to being dependent on Germany or Japan for food during WWll. Saudi’s hate us. They want us dead. Their whacked out Wahabbi cult calls for our heads on a platter. Every dollar we spend at the pump endangers another US soldier…….not to mention the millions of people who work in skyscrapers.

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  15. By Jeremy on September 23, 2010 at 12:32 am

    The lead time for conversion is too short…there will be major dislocatrions and pain…especially for the poor.
    Society will has great stress, what is going to happen when thr public sector can not afford to continue to dle out unemployment cheques.
    Where are the funds going to come from to invest in new technologies?

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  16. By Wendell Mercantile on September 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

    We’ll never know how many Leafs would have flown off the lots

    I hadn’ realized Nissan built flight characteristics into the Leaf? That’s an attractive added value feature. Many pilots will no doubt trade in their airplanes so they no longer have to pay hangar fees at their local airport.

    By the Way: I believe the plural of Leaf is Leaves.

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  17. By Perry on September 23, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Next years’ production of Leaves sold out several months ago Wendell. I think it’s fair to say they’re flying off future assembly lines. Nissan plans to produce 500,000 in 2013. Maybe by then I can catch one on a dealers lot. Call me old fashioned, but I expect to test drive a car before I buy.

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  18. By OD on September 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

    By the Way: I believe the plural of Leaf is Leaves

    For tree leaves maybe, but not when talking about a proper name.

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  19. By OD on September 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

    And as Perry says, we can do it, and do it well, if we don’t wait to the 11th hr.

    Which makes sense since no one agrees on when the peak will actually occur. A 2008 poll of 100 US oil company CFOs found that 48% believe we are at peak now or will be shortly, but the rest, the majority, believe it is anywhere from 10-30+ years out. Even those that think we are at peak now believe it will be many years before we will know for sure.

    I would propose there is a risk to mitagating too soon since many of the mitigation plans, such as Hirsch, involve using other fossil fuels in lieu of oil. We would exploit these fossil fuels quicker than need be if we were not near peak. That being said, i agree with Robert that we are a decade, at the very most, away from peak and need to be doing stuff NOW. Although we are doing ‘stuff’ now, but perhaps not enough.

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  20. By Kit P on September 23, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    “Kit, would you consider it…”

     

    Perry you seem to have a difficult time discerning between reality and the hypothetical.  Please take note the verb tense I use.  Oil is not a national security issue.  The amount of oil we import is an economic issue.  Could it become a national security issue?  Maybe, but I am not going to let Perry use it as a excuse to dictate how I live.

     

    If Perry wants to buy a hybrid, I think the government will give him a tax break.  Perry wants the government to mandate by choices to a hybrid that is $10k more expensive even if it will not save any oil because it does not meet my driving needs.  

     

    “Were you here for the gas lines of the 70′s?”

     

    I was a serving line officer in the US Navy for the better part 70′s.  I do understand national security.  I also understand the news media likes to make a world crisis out of every trivial inconvenience. 

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  21. By mac on September 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Robert.

    Glad to see that you have (apparently) come to the conclusion that the only energy source that can compete with oil on a gallon for gallon (energy equivalent) basis is electricity.

    Excellent…..

    You mentioned the fact that the bio-chemical photosynthesis rate for plant life converting sunlight to bio-mass is about ! %.

    Excellent.

    Solar power (present technology) can convert sunlight (directly) into electricity at perhaps a !5% efficiency, without the steps of having to burn bio-mass to make electricity at perhaps at perhaps another 50 % efficiency loss.
    .
    Harvesting the sun’s energy at 1% (photo-synthesis) efficiently pales when compared to even relatively inefficient solar cells. If you convert sunlight to biomass at 1% efficiency, then burn it at 50% efficiency to make electricity, then you are getting s 1/2 per cent return on the sunlight. Solar (as crude as it is, gets 15 %)

    Robert once said: “I am long on solar”.

    Sunlight to electricity without multitudes of losses from intermediate energy conversions, Well, It just doesn’t get any better than that…..

    You got it right Robert,

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  22. By Perry on September 23, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Kit P said:

      Oil is not a national security issue.  The amount of oil we import is an economic issue.   

    I was a serving line officer in the US Navy for the better part 70′s.  I do understand national security. 


     

    These people say it is a national security issue Kit. I was in the Navy during the 70′s too. But, these people are a tad more qualified than either of us. They were CEO’s, college deans, Secretary of Defense etc. etc.

     

    National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency

     

    http://www.cfr.org/publication…..dency.html

     

     

     

     

     

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  23. By Perry on September 23, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Energy is a central challenge to U.S. foreign policy, not simply one
    of many challenges. Global dependence on oil is rapidly eroding U.S.
    power and influence because oil is a strategic commodity largely controlled
    by regressive governments and a cartel that raises prices and
    multiplies the rents that flow to oil producers. These rents have enriched
    and emboldened Iran, enabled President Vladamir Putin to undermine
    Russia’sdemocracy, entrenched regressive autocrats inAfrica, forestalled
    action against genocide in Sudan, and facilitated Venezuela’s campaign
    against free trade in the Americas. Most gravely, oil consumers are in
    effect financing both sides of the war on terrorism.

    http://www.cfr.org/content/pub…..rgyTFR.pdf

    The last sentence can’t be hammered home enough. Saudi Arabia has built thousands of madrassas in places like Indonesia and Pakistan, where students chant “Death to America” 8 hours a day, while pounding their heads on the ground.

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  24. By Eddie on September 23, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Robert,
    You mentioned in the interview that you favor thermal technologies over biological technologies, so I was wondering what you thought about catalytic gasification of coal/biomass/MSW as a means on generating high methane content syngas for various applications such as SNG or electricity.
    Would you be able to write a blog about your thoughts on GreatPointEnergy’s (i.e. Exxon’s) catalytic gasification technology?
    Thanks
    Eddie

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  25. By Kit P on September 23, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    “National Security Consequences of
    U.S. Oil Dependency”

     

    Perry, did you read the report?

     

    “These people say it is a national
    security issue Kit.”

     

    Actually they do not say that. The
    report title is somewhat misleading. The report is not about
    national security but about energy policy. From the report,

     

    The
    Council on Foreign Relations established an Independent Task Force to
    examine the consequences of dependence on imported energy for U.S.
    foreign policy.”

     

    Then
    they pretty much skip examining the consequences and go straight for
    how we should change policy. I do agree with this statement in the
    report,

     

    “The lack of sustained attention to
    energy issues is undercutting U.S. foreign policy and national
    security.”

    No really, they figured that out all by themselves, what a brian trust!

     

    “But, these people are a tad more
    qualified than either of us.”

     

    Read the report Perry and tell me if
    you learned anything new about the “National Security Consequences
    of U.S. Oil Dependency”. Very shallow analysis!

     

    On the topic of energy policy, none of
    these people are particularity well qualified. Again read the
    report, it very shallow analysis on this topic as well. The report
    states,

     

    The
    Task Force goes on to argue that U.S. energy policy has been plagued
    by myths, such as the feasibility of achieving ‘‘energy
    independence’’ through increased drilling or anything else.”

     

    The
    US is the third largest oil producer in the world even with many
    places off limits for new drilling. Then there is corn ethanol, GTL,
    CTL, BTL, nuclear generated hydrogen, and BEV.

     

    The
    report states,

     

    The
    Task Force does not believe there is a corresponding need to adopt
    additional measures to limit demand for natural gas.”

     

    The report date is 2006 when there was
    increasing demand for LNG. It is interesting that we reduced the
    demand for imported LNG by increasing the number of drilling rigs
    looking for NG. It does seem that exploring for more domestic energy
    might be too obvious of an answer for all those qualified people.

     

    “I was in the Navy during the 70′s
    too.”

     

    Then you have heard this all before,
    too many times. When the answer to a problem is the government
    controlling how you live, I think it is more about control than
    finding solutions.

     

    One use of energy is to gather
    information on the Internet, figure out what the problem is, and come
    up with your own personal plan. It makes it hard for the fear
    mongers to control you if you do not let them.

     

    As far as that pesky old national
    security thing, there answer is the US Navy. Remember them? We have
    ten nuclear supper carriers that China depends on to get their oil
    and Saudi Arabia food.

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  26. By OD on September 24, 2010 at 12:45 am

    As far as that pesky old national security thing, there answer is the US Navy. Remember them? We have ten nuclear supper carriers that China depends on to get their oil and Saudi Arabia food.

    So as long as we are the so-called ‘world police’ is it not a national security issue?

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  27. By rrapier on September 24, 2010 at 12:55 am

    “Is it a national security issue or not?”

    Of course it is. When something as critical to the economy as oil is being doled out by the Venezuelas of the world; that is to say countries who are hostile to U.S. interests — it is very much a national security issue. Or when a country like Saudi Arabia could bring the U.S. economy to a halt overnight, it is a national security issue. And all they would have to do is shut down exports and it would be 1973 all over again.

    RR

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  28. By rrapier on September 24, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Eddie said:

    Robert,

    You mentioned in the interview that you favor thermal technologies over biological technologies, so I was wondering what you thought about catalytic gasification of coal/biomass/MSW as a means on generating high methane content syngas for various applications such as SNG or electricity.


     

    Very much in favor of those kinds of applications. In fact, there are places in the world where we think biomass to syngas to electricity makes more economic sense than any other option.

    Would you be able to write a blog about your thoughts on GreatPointEnergy’s (i.e. Exxon’s) catalytic gasification technology?

    Don’t know about a blog (quite a few things in the pipeline at the moment) but I definitely think we will see more of that trend going into the future; coal converted to syngas or SNG.

    Cheers, RR

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  29. By paul-n on September 24, 2010 at 2:17 am

    And all they would have to do is shut down exports and it would be 1973 all over again.

    I’m not sure that would necessarily be an altogether bad thing, especially if it were to happen now.  It’s not like it would cause a recession – we already have that.

    In fact, I think it would be just the kick in the pants that is needed to get some serious action from government and people on the matter.  WE have had government telling us it wants to get off imported oil – what better way than an embargo – no imports, and the government gets to blame someone else!

    There would be some clear decisions about future domestic energy production, there would be some serious efforts from the carmakers to make less of the large vehicles, and certainly less people buying and driving them.  There would be more incentive to do some transit projects, though, being mostly government projects they will probably be mismanaged and done in the most expensive way possible.

    And I think it would get the attention of everyone, and realise that we haven’t innovated our way to energy independence, and if we want it, it will take some hard work and some lifestyle changes, but I think many people would be happy to have hard work to do, and would be happy for a lifestyle change too.  

    In fact, it might even get the American people to stop arguing with each other and get on with doing something towards a common goal – I do believe their is a precedent for that in 1941.  

    If that means lineups for fuel than so be it  - after all, people line up for days for the new Ipad, Xbox, 3-d movie, etc etc.

    I wasn’t here to experience 1973 and 1979-80, but for whatever economic pain it did cause, those two oil crises did lead to permanent reductions in oil usage, and arguably are the only things that have lead to permanent reductions (demand destruction).  And that is what we need again now – bring it on!

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  30. By Perry on September 24, 2010 at 4:37 am

    The 70′s were an economic nightmare Paul. Double digit inflation and interest rates combined with high unemployment. This recession is a walk in the park in comparison. Better an embargo, or peak oil, happen in 2 or 3 years when we have the tools to cope. I count about 20 EV’s coming down the pike. Toyota is even bringing back the RAV-4.

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  31. By rrapier on September 24, 2010 at 4:42 am

    I’m not sure that would necessarily be an altogether bad thing, especially if it were to happen now.

    As Perry says, I don’t think this is something we would really like to see happen. Much better that we try to wean ourselves instead of going cold turkey. You are right, we would definitely respond faster to a cutoff of Saudi imports, but it would be quite a shock to the system.

    RR

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  32. By Perry on September 24, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Tesla is getting its groove on. It’s building the RAV4 for Toyota. And it’s coming out with the Model S in 2012. 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Still priced high at $49,000, but less than half the cost of Tesla’s on the road. Oh, and it has a range of 300 miles and a charge time of 45 minutes. Yowsa…..

     

    http://www.teslamotors.com/models

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  33. By moiety on September 24, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Robert Rapier said:

    Very much in favor of those kinds of applications. In fact, there are

    places in the world where we think biomass to syngas to electricity

    makes more economic sense than any other option.

    Here is a question then

    From an observer’s point of view, your blog deals primarily (though not exclusively) with issues surrounding biomass. In the long term you see solar being the energy source that can provide us with our energy needs (along with energy reduction).

    In that role what does biomass, whether by gasification or other offer? Is it simply a stop-gap measure for energy production, should be be reserved for chemical synthesis (or will fossil sources still play the main role in this) or do you see it as a regional contributor to energy? Further is it wise to use biomass derived electricity considering the potential shortage for chemical  ?

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  34. By mac on September 24, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Perry,

    There was an article on Autoblog Green the other day saying that over 100 hybrids, PHEV and BEVs are coming out within the next 2 or 3 years. I’m sure there will be even more announcements as time goes by. Looks like the wind is really stirring the leaves (or is it Leafs ?)

    I have a Google alert for “battery breakthroughs” and there are several promising next generation batteries such as Lithium -air, Zinc-air and a solid state battery that has twice the energy density of current Li batteries, The solid state battery is past the laboratory stage and is being field tested. Toyota has a group of engineers working on the zinc-air. The guy that spun out A123 Battery from MIT has formed a new company to build a flow battery that’s supposed to be an order of magnitude better than the current Lithium technology.

    Battery designers are gravitating to Zinc because it is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The Chinese, Koreans and Japan are all working on batteries at a fever pitch, Lots of guys running around in white lab coats.

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  35. By Perry on September 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I think Tesla had the right idea Mac. Early adopters pay for the technology, which comes down in price with mass production. Their second generation car goes further and costs half as much. Looks better in my opinion too. Third generation is where their game plan has an affordable car for the general public. Would John Q. Public buy an EV that went 350 mi. on a 30 minute charge and cost $25,000? I couldn’t imagine why not. Could ICE’s even compete with an EV like that?

     

    Tesla is what motivated Lutz at GM to get going with the Volt. GM, in turn, motivated the other automakers to move their butts. I don’t doubt that better batteries will come along. I’m just glad we finally reached the point where automakers aren’t waiting for a better battery. That only took 100 years!

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  36. By Wendell Mercantile on September 24, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I don’t doubt that better batteries will come along.

    Perry~

    There have also been breakthroughs in ultra-capacitors. In some ways they are more promising than batteries: New ultra-capacitor recharges in under a millisecond

    Ultra-capacitors are capable of charging and discharging in only seconds and this gives them an advantage over batteries, which take much longer, and make them extremely useful in applications such as regenerative braking.

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  37. By doggydogworld on September 24, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Perry said:

    Tesla is getting its groove on. It’s building the RAV4 for Toyota. And it’s coming out with the Model S in 2012. 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Still priced high at $49,000, but less than half the cost of Tesla’s on the road. Oh, and it has a range of 300 miles and a charge time of 45 minutes.


     

    Just to be clear, the price is $57,400. In most cases the taxpayers pay $7500 of that. And that is NOT for the version with 300 miles of range, but the base version with 160 mile range.

    I like the Volt concept better, but the Volt only seats 4. The Tesla Model S costs a lot more but performs much better, is prettier and has a rear jump seat for kids which expands seating to 7. I am seriously considering it.

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  38. By OD on September 24, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Anyone know what the price of the RAV4 will be?

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  39. By mac on September 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Perry.

    There’s an interesting 15 minute video on Autoblog Green with with Jay Leno testing the new 2.5 Tesla Roadster. A gal from Tesla and Jay talk about various features of the car, then Jay takes it for a spin.

    Video: Jay Leno’s Garage revisits the Tesla Roadster

    [link]      
  40. By Kit P on September 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    It sounds like some of you are confusing national security with other things.

     

    “”The protection or the safety of a country’s secrets and its citizens.”

     

    No ambiguity there!

     

    “1973 all over again”

     

    What happen in 1973 that that threatened the security of US citizens?  

     

    The arms race with thousands of nuclear weapons being built certainly would count as a national security issue.  When you trivialize something as important as national security and a nucleear war WWII with complaining about paying more for energy, then ’ national security’ loses meaning as an important issue.

     

    “The 70′s were an economic nightmare Paul. Double digit inflation and interest rates combined with high unemployment.”

     

    More like a bad dream.  In 1973, I supported my family on the income of an E-5.  We had to do some things like car pooling to make ends meet but we owned our own house.  We even took leave to drive from Midwest to California to show the new baby off to the grandparents and aunts and uncles.

     

    The 70s ended for me as a junior officer on one of the newest surface ships in the fleet which could not survive an attack by cheap surface to surface missiles available to any petty dictator.  So how did the US go from a declining superpower to the only superpower with over whelming military dominance?  PaulN nailed summarizing with,

     

    “I wasn’t here to experience 1973 and 1979-80, but for whatever economic pain it did cause, those two oil crises did lead to permanent reductions in oil usage, and arguably are the only things that have lead to permanent reductions (demand destruction).  And that is what we need again now – bring it on!”

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  41. By rrapier on September 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    In the long term you see solar being the energy source that can provide us with our energy needs (along with energy reduction).

    Two things. I see solar as being the only renewable source that could provide enough energy to allow us similar mobility to today’s. But, there are technical and economic challenges that must be overcome, and there is no assurance that they will be overcome.

    In that role what does biomass, whether by gasification or other offer?

    Even if we assume that the challenges of solar are overcome – i.e., storage and reliable, cost effective electric transportation – we will still need liquid fuels for air and marine transport. So we see a role for biomass-derived liquid fuels in any case.

    Further is it wise to use biomass derived electricity considering the potential shortage for chemical ?

    Ideally, you would turn the biomass into liquid fuels. However, there are cases in which the economics may favor electricity (a much lower capital cost option than liquid fuel production).

    RR

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  42. By paul-n on September 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Well, Kit and I are agreement on something!  I think there is a big difference between “national security” (=survival of the country) and “security of lifestyle” but many people equate the latter to the former.  Government’s obligation is to provide security, not lifestyle, that is up to the people.  

    The country will survive, and if that means we give up luxury of wasting fuel while stuck in traffic in a big SUV with the a/c on, and the the dual screen dvd’s playing, then so be it.    There are much higher prices that have been paid in the past – we are getting off easy.

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  43. By Kit P on September 24, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    “”security of lifestyle”
    but many people equate the latter to the former.”

     

    I do not think so and I do not know
    anyone who does. Fear mongers would be telling people that
    terrorists want to steal their SUV if that was the case. What scares
    people is that nut jobs who happen to be the head of state would
    provide terrorists a few nuclear weapons to park in US cities.

     

    The reality is that Americans have
    never been more secure or more affluent. The environmental impact of
    of that lifestyle. Eat your vegetables, there are starving in China!

     

    You can control the population by
    withholding food. You can try to control people by fear of losing
    what they have. That is what peak oil is all about. They tell we
    have to give us our SUV because it is a national security issue. And
    how do the people who tell us this live?

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  44. By rbm on September 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I’d like to read up on the study Robert mentioned in the clip that gave a ratio of burned ancient biomass per year at 400 to 1.

    Does anyone have a link ?

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  45. By rrapier on September 26, 2010 at 2:58 am

    RBM said:

    I’d like to read up on the study Robert mentioned in the clip that gave a ratio of burned ancient biomass per year at 400 to 1.

    Does anyone have a link ?


     

    Yes, the source is:

    Dukes, J. (2003). Burning Buried Sunshine: Human Consumption of Ancient Solar Energy, Climate Change, 61, pp. 31–44.

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  46. By rbm on September 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you, Robert.

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