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By Robert Rapier on Oct 1, 2010 with 186 responses

Book Review: Power Hungry

Introduction

There is no more complex or fascinating topic than energy.” — Robert Bryce
Power Hungry: The Myths of

As I began to work on my review of Robert Bryce’s latest book, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future, it became less a traditional review and more a summary/commentary on some of the key points in the book. For most readers of this book, there will be things you will strongly agree with, but also things that you think he gets wrong. There will definitely be things that you are surprised to learn, and there will be things that you won’t believe. But if you approach this book with an open mind, you will find yourself reconsidering some things you have taken for granted.

The book is divided into four parts. In Part I, “Our Quest for Power”, Bryce puts our energy usage into context. He spends some time explaining different units of energy — what they are, what they mean, where they came from, and how to convert them — and then attempts to convey the scale of our energy usage to readers. Bryce demonstrates a very good comprehension of the issues of scale and energy density. Part I is not controversial and will be very educational for many people.

In Part II, Bryce starts getting into “The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy.” The discussions in Part II focus on wind and solar power, T. Boone Pickens, Denmark, energy efficiency, electric cars, cellulosic ethanol, carbon taxes, and carbon dioxide sequestration. (For balance, I would like to see “Myths of Fossil Energy.”) He touches upon practically every renewable energy media darling, but his wind power critique was especially pointed (more below).

Part III, “The Power of N2N”, discusses the the future, which Bryce believes will be dominated by a continuing movement toward natural gas and nuclear power. Finally in Part IV, “Moving Forward”, Bryce puts forth some ideas on policies that would result in a more “forward-looking” energy policy.

On Wind Power

Bryce leaves no doubt where he stands on wind power. First let me say that I am not an expert in wind energy, so perhaps the wind industry has rebuttals to Bryce’s claims. But he details several potential issues with wind power, including noise, bird kills, and intermittency that leads to inefficiencies as conventional power plants are cycled up and down.

He cited a report that said that the resource requirements for wind power are very high. In comparing a wind farm to a nuclear power plant, the report stated that per megawatt of power produced it takes 9.6 times more concrete and 11.5 times more steel for the wind farm.

Bryce points out cases in which ExxonMobil and PacifiCorp were successfully prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for inadvertent bird kills in their operations, cases that were “clearly justified” according to Bryce. He then points out that the number of birds killed by wind turbines dwarfs those killed in these two cases, yet he says that the wind industry has been exempted from enforcement action under both the MBTA and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Bryce points out the apparent double standard: ExxonMobil was prosecuted for killing 85 birds, and the wind farm at Altamont Pass, California kills more than 100 times that number every year without fear of prosecution.

On Denmark

Here, Bryce takes on what he argues are energy myths in Denmark — “Myth: Denmark Provides an Energy Model for the U.S.” (As with my arguments around Brazilian myths, the criticism is the myth that what they have done is a model for the U.S.). He first points out that it is true that Denmark doesn’t import oil, but cites the fact that their offshore oil developments in the North Sea bring in as much oil as the citizens use (similar to Brazil where per capita consumption and production of oil are similar).

Bryce writes that the Danes get 48 times more energy from hydrocarbons than from wind. On the topic of coal, he argues that the Danes are more dependent on coal than is the U.S. The Danes get 26% of their primary energy from coal (all imported), while in the U.S. coal’s share is 24.3% (mostly domestic). However, I would point out that our primary energy usage is much higher in the U.S., and therefore our usage of coal is far greater. In the U.S., our coal usage in 2008 was 564 million tons, versus 4.1 million tons for Denmark.

To be fair, he gives the Danes plenty of credit as well for their energy policies. He points out that electricity consumption is up in Denmark while they have kept their carbon emissions flat. He points to several possible reasons for that, including high energy taxes.

As an aside, Jeff Rubin recently weighed in with his views on Denmark’s emissions in an article in The Globe and Mail:

High energy prices make Copenhagen green

While North American carbon emissions have risen by around 30 per cent since 1990 (the reference point for the Kyoto Accord), Denmark’s emissions are actually lower than they were two decades ago. That’s generally ascribed to the fact that a world-leading 20 per cent of the power generated in Denmark comes from wind. Less commonly known is the source of the other 80 per cent. I was surprised to discover that it comes from good old King Coal. In fact, coal’s share of power generation in Denmark’s power grid is basically the same as it is in China.

How, then, has Denmark been so successful in managing its carbon emissions? The answer lies not with the source of power, but with the price of power. At 30 cents per kilowatt hour, electricity costs anywhere from three to five times what the average North American would pay. And, not surprisingly, Danish households consume a fraction of the power that we do.

On Electric Cars

Bryce spends quite a bit of time discussing the notion that fully electric cars (as opposed to hybrids) will soon penetrate the mass market. Bryce argues that the hype around electric cars has existed for over 100 years, but that the fundamental issue of low energy density of the batteries (ethanol has 50x the energy density of lithium-ion batteries) remains. He has a graphic of the energy densities of a number of energy sources, and the contrast is sharp. He quotes one of the lead designers of the Toyota Prius saying that to produce a car that’s truly intended for the mass market will require a battery chemistry that does not yet exist.

On Energy Efficiency

Bryce argues that the U.S. has been unfairly maligned over energy efficiency. He wrote that between 1980 and 2006, U.S. carbon intensity fell by 43.6% – a larger drop than the EU-15′s 30.1% decline. He points out that China, “surprisingly” had a 64% drop over that time. Probably the reason for the performance of the U.S. and China in this case is that our starting point was one of very poor efficiency. It is going to be much harder to make big gains if you are already relatively energy efficient.

Likewise, he cited the decline in per capita energy consumption in the U.S. as being greater than almost every other developed country in the world. While I agree that this is noteworthy, I would also say it has a lot to do with our starting position and there being a lot of low-hanging fruit.

Miscellaneous Myths

On T. Boone Pickens: “Pickens led a gullible media and an even more gullible public to believe that the evils of foreign oil could be overcome if only the public provided him with a few more subsidies for his pet projects.”

On cutting CO2 emissions: “The carbon dioxide reduction targets being advocated…are pure fantasy.” He also argues that the U.S. can’t stop the global rise in carbon emissions because there are too many in the world still living in energy poverty. (I made similar arguments in Why We Will Never Address Global Warming).

On carbon capture and sequestration (CCS): He says that viable CCS is a myth perpetuated by the coal industry — presumably to deflect criticism of their carbon emissions by suggesting that an answer is right around the corner.

On taxing CO2: He argues (and I agree) that you will never get world leaders to agree on a global scheme to tax carbon dioxide. He cites several studies pointing to the problems with mercury and cadmium emissions from coal-fired power plants, and argues that curbing those emissions is a more realistic goal.

The Future

As far as where things are headed, Bryce mentions that many prognosticators are forecasting peak oil now or in the not too distant future. He also discusses the potential for an imminent peak in coal production. He mentions the possibility of higher prices and economic pain, and he then takes up the question of how our energy needs will be met as oil declines. That they will be met, he seems fairly certain.

He believes that our future energy sources will continue a trend, already underway, of more nuclear power and natural gas. He cites coal as a possibility, but believes air quality requirements will favor nuclear and natural gas over coal. (I still believe that globally we will ultimately burn up all the coal we can get our hands on).

He sketches a path forward, that he thinks will start with natural gas due to the length of time it takes to get a nuclear plant built. On the other hand he also believes that natural gas will face resistance in pushing forward because of the coal lobby. He covers some of the history of natural gas regulations in the U.S. that have set the industry back (including some of which I was unaware). The primary beneficiary of the anti-gas regulations was the coal industry.

Bryce covers the history of the shale gas industry, and draws parallels between earlier cries of “peak gas is here” to today’s cries of “peak oil is here.” The lesson he is trying to convey is that you can’t anticipate technology developments. But his future has us strongly embracing nuclear power as the energy source with the lowest impact on the environment. This trend is already underway in many other parts of the world, and Bryce believes it is inevitable that it will play out like that in the U.S.

Summary

Some have suggested that Bryce’s agenda is to promote fossil fuels. It is true that at times in the book Bryce sounds like he is advocating on behalf of the oil industry and the far right (e.g., “we need to use more, not less oil”), but there are also times that his position would be identical to that of Greenpeace and those on the far left (e.g., citing the many downsides of the oil and coal industry, or the need to save the mountain gorilla in the Congo). At the end of the day — as I try to remind people — it really doesn’t matter who is making an argument. What matters is the argument itself. It should stand or fall on its merits, and not because you may think the person making it has ulterior motives.

When I read a book, there are two things that I am looking for. First, I want to learn things I didn’t know. Second, I want to think about things in a new way. (The latter is why I like science fiction). Power Hungry passes on both counts. There was a lot in the book that I didn’t know (e.g., Denmark’s dependence on imported coal). But ultimately, I want arguments that challenge my way of thinking and cause me to take a closer look at certain positions. I got that from this book.

Footnote: Two Guys from Oklahoma

Robert Bryce and I have a lot in common. We were both born and raised in Oklahoma, both graduated from major universities in Texas and both lived in Texas for many years (where he still resides). We are both married with one daughter and two sons — all of whom were born in Texas.

We both spend a lot of time debunking what we feel are myths. We are realistic over the use of fossil fuels; we recognize the downsides but also know that because fossil fuels have provided us with incredible comfort, mobility, and opportunities that they will continue to play a central role in our Western lifestyle, and will be embraced by the developing world.

Where I think we differ is in our approach. On the surface, we might appear to be the same: Two guys who pull no punches in telling people they are deluding themselves with a Gusher of Lies or Myths of Green Energy. But dig a little deeper, and you start to find some specific differences in our positions and in our respective styles.

Someone told me once that they believed that I like wearing the black hat. That’s actually not true. Generally speaking, when I am debunking myths I am trying to leave open a window for dialogue. Instead of Gusher of Lies, I would have probably gone with the less catchy title “Gusher of Things that Appear to Have Been Exaggerated.” The stuff I write just isn’t as edgy as the stuff he writes.

If I see my views misrepresented on a website, I may jump in to defend myself. I don’t like to see myself turning up on enemies lists. If someone calls me a shill for big oil, I am going to stop and defend my record. But I don’t think Bryce cares what the people he is criticizing think about him. I think he really does like wearing the black hat, and he wears it well in this book.

Recent Articles by Robert Bryce

The Brewing Tempest Over Wind Power

Wind Turbines and Bird Kills

Wind Power Won’t Cool Down the Planet

  1. By Perry on October 1, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Being a journalist, I suppose he’s as qualified as anyone to assemble facts into a readable format. Still, if I’m going to shell out for a book on energy, I’d prefer the author have at least a wee bit of experience in something energy related.

    He could have used the same facts to present green energy in a positive light, had he chosen to. For instance, the wind farm at Altemont Pass, California he used as an example of what windmills do to birds, uses obsolete technology. He COULD HAVE noted that today’s windmills are much friendlier to birds, or that knowing what we know now, Altemont Pass would never be considered as a site for a wind farm today.

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  2. By John on October 1, 2010 at 8:07 am

    A few points to note:
    1) Resource requirements may appear high on relative terms, but energy payback periods are still less than 2 years for large wind turbines
    2) Noise is a red-herring put up by NIMBY types. Most turbines are nearly silent, even when standing directly underneath. Regardless, can compare decibel levels to other commonly sited infrastructure (airports, highways) and find that wind farms are far preferable. Bats may or may not be a more serious issue, but not a lot of study has been done on this yet.
    3) Altamont Pass is not at all representative, but gets used a lot by wind power opponents because it has such dramatic numbers. In reality, it was an awful technology (shorter tower, fast-spinning rotor) and location design (right in the middle of bird flight paths). Bird kills for modern wind turbines are comparable to any large man-made structure, like a building, but modern turbines have blades which are higher and spin slower, and the siting process now watches for these issues.
    4) Comparing Denmark’s percentages of primary energy from hydrocarbons isn’t a meaningful comparison, especially when arguing against people saying that the electricity sector provides a model. Renewable energy requires much less primary energy (no 60% energy losses as in burning coal for generation), such that it takes up a smaller share relative to its end-use share – i.e. that energy is not needed in the first place.
    5) Where a country’s oil comes from doesn’t matter – it’s how much they use that’s important, a metric which Denmark would beat the U.S. on per capita and per GDP measures.

    If I continued to go through this, I’m sure I could respond to the additional distortions in electric cars, energy efficiency, and the like, but I have real work to do. Suffice it to say that this is a common problem with intentionally-provocative political books on policy issues – 1) they are bad at science because they don’t understand the fields they pontificate on, and 2) they distort facts and statistics to fit their predetermined conclusion, ignoring relevant qualifiers.

    I’ll pass, thank you.

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  3. By Michael Goggin, AWEA on October 1, 2010 at 8:43 am

    As other commenters have already noted, Bryce’s book is filled with misleading and outright false claims, particularly his attacks on wind energy. Of course, we wouldn’t expect anything less from someone employed by the ExxonMobil-funded Manhattan Institute. Here is our summary of the most outrageously false claims made by Bryce:
    http://www.awea.org/newsroom/p…..sponse.pdf

    Michael Goggin,
    American Wind Energy Association

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  4. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Bird kills,,,,. Now that’s an interesting subject. How about all the dead oil soaked Pelicans from the BP oil spill ?

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  5. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Noise is a red-herring put up by NIMBY types. Most turbines are nearly silent, even when standing directly underneath.*

    John~

    I’m an advocate of wind power, but you are wrong about the noise issue. The turbines may be silent, but the blades are not. At 17 rpm the blade tips are moving at close to 200 mph, and they make a constant ripping noise as the move through the air.

    I’ve stood at different distances* under operating wind turbines and the noise reminds me of holding a piece of newsprint in front of you and tearing it lengthwise. That doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize the noise never ends — it continues as long as the wind blows. To continue the newsprint analogy it would be like tearing an infinitely long piece of newsprint.

    Personally, I could not live near an operating utility-scale wind turbine. I like to sleep with the windows open in spring, summer, and fall, and I could not do that living near a wind farm.

    _________
    * They are actually quieter immediately under the blades than at some distance off to the side. It’s because of the way air turbulence and sound waves propagate off the blades.

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  6. By moiety on October 1, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Robert Rapier said:

    But he details several potential issues with wind power, including noise, bird kills, and intermittency that leads to inefficiencies as conventional power plants are cycled up and down.


     

    With regard to bird kills I think that can be placed in the same league as certain practices of nuclear waste; the job can be done safely is a proper long term view of the process is envisaged. With regard to bird kills placing turbines in non migratory areas would seem astute but was perhaps not considered early in the industry’s life until problems became apparent. In any case energy generation will cause an impact on the environment and I for one would not support the sort of view that turbines are deliberately placed at the detriment to birds.

    Noise is something I hold no countenance with. The test turbines here and the turbines in the locality are not noisy; I have cycled under quite a few on my way to Sneek. They can be noisy in storms but generally the storm is itself louder.

     

    intermittency however is an issue that the wind issue does skirt around though since I have not read the book, I cannot comment on how Bryce deals with said issue. What I will say is this; intermittency is not so much an issue as dispatchability. Wind power does indeed have capacity factors similar to many other sources but usually it cannot be predicted when this power will be generated. Thus when this power is available one may not be able to dispatch the power as their is not use for it. Further when a large spike does arise once cannot rely on an intermittent source to be able to dispatch. The reason for these issues is not only due to wind but also in how our grid is operated. Our grid is generally operated where demand is brought online/offline depending on demand. It is not designed to store large amounts of energy say like a storage heater would do (to avail of cheaper electricity).

     

    What I always find disappointing with intermittent generators is their usually skirting of this issue; the need to go from a supply demand grid to a storage demand grid when their power source is used in significant penetrations. This I feel is a play to the crowd and an effort to label their energy as cheap as the current alternatives. However it avoids the problem of actually providing reliable energy for the future. To that end we have seen limited developments in storage solutions that are not linked to other industries (e.g. batteries).

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  7. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I don’t have Bryce’s book in front of me right now, but there was one statement near the back of the book I absolutely, 100% agree with.

    To paraphrase, he says the problem with America’s energy policy is that lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians make the decisions and decide policy instead of technocrats, engineers, and scientists. And that those lawyers and politicians who write energy policy actually know very little about energy, and as a result are driven mostly by partisan special interests.

    I’ve long felt that all elected politicians should have to take a course in thermodynamics before being sworn in.

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  8. By OD on October 1, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I certainly hope he is correct that we will move to more nuclear power, but natural gas? That seems extremely short-sighted.

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  9. By moiety on October 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

    OD said:

    I certainly hope he is correct that we will move to more nuclear power, but natural gas? That seems extremely short-sighted.


     

    Agreed though I think he suggests NG as he does not see a viable alternative.

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  10. By ronald-steenblik on October 1, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Wendell wrote:

    [T]here was one statement near the back of the book I absolutely, 100% agree with. To paraphrase, he says the problem with America’s energy policy is that lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians make the decisions and decide policy instead of technocrats, engineers, and scientists.

    Technocrats?! Heavens!

    By the way: Excellent review, Robert!

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  11. By Perry on October 1, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Check out his video at EV World, where he warns of China’s rare earth monopoly. He makes the case that EV’s rely on China alone, while oil is exported by LOTS of wonderful countries. While it’s true that the Prius uses 25 lbs. of rare earths, what he fails to say is that 23 lbs. of that is for their NIMH battery. He also neglects to mention that the US once owned the rare earth market, but cheap production from China shut us out of our own market. If the metals become expensive or scarce, we can easily produce all we need and more.

    Bryce has some facts right. Problem is, he uses those facts to distort reality. He tells us that housecats kill 3000 times more birds than windmills, but expects us to kill the windmill, instead of the housecat.

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  12. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 11:15 am

    but natural gas? That seems extremely short-sighted.

    Not short-sighted at all. The earth is full* of methane, and our landfills keep generating more of the stuff every day.

    There are billions and billions of tons of the stuff at the bottom of the oceans in the form of frozen methane clathrates we just have to figure out how to get to. It will certainly be a daunting task, but it’s sitting there for the taking.

    10 and 20 years ago no one thought we could get the methane out of shale formations. We’ve now tapped that. Methane clathrates will be next.
    ________________
    * Not literally, but you get my point.

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  13. By ronald-steenblik on October 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Here is one source of estimates on annual bird kills in the United States (apart from wind turbines and oil spills), in millions:

    Glass windows …………………………. 100-900+

    Electric transmission line collisions … 100+

    Hunting ………………………………….. 100+

    House cats ……………………………… 100

    Vehicles …………………………………..    50-100

    Agriculture ……………………………….    67

    Communication towers ………………     4-10

    Oil and Gas Extraction ………………..     1-2

    Land development …………………… unknown

    Stock tank drowning ………………… unknown

    Logging and strip mining ……………. unknown

    Commercial Fishing …………………… unknown

    Plus more than 1,000 raports are estimated to be killed each year through electrocutions.

    Of course, it can be argued that pressure from most of these categories is not increasing, or at least not rapidly, whereas the expected increase in the numbers of windmills is several-fold.

     

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  14. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Technocrats?! Heavens!

    Ronald~

    What’s wrong with technocrats?

    Technocrats are individuals with technical training and occupations who perceive many important societal problems as being solvable, often while proposing technology-focused solutions. Technocrats are primarily driven by their cognitive “problem-solution mindsets” and only in part by particular occupational group interests.

    I think it would be rather refreshing to have someone in charge who was driven by a problem-solution mindset instead of by politics and special interests.

    Had technocrats been in charge, do you think we would have sunk so many resources into corn ethanol?

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  15. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve read several of Bryce’s articles on ethanol. They were so hideously, grossly misleading, and, actually, downright fraudulent, that I couldn’t possibly take what he has to say about Wind, or Solar, seriously.

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  16. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    To paraphrase, he says the problem with America’s energy policy is that lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians make the decisions and decide policy instead of technocrats, engineers, and scientists.

    I think the comment you are looking for was that France is run by engineers and the U.S. is run by lawyers.

    RR

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  17. By OD on October 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    10 and 20 years ago no one thought we could get the methane out of shale formations. We’ve now tapped that. Methane clathrates will be next.

    You do have a point. Japan did have a succesful test hole a few years back.

    Maybe Japan won’t be the canary in the colemine, but the leader of the new energy revolution.

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  18. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I think the comment you are looking for was that France is run by engineers and the U.S. is run by lawyers.

    RR~

    Thanks Robert. That was part of it — especially with respect to their nuclear power system. I’ll give you the specific page when I get my hands on the book again. I checked it out of the library, and had to return it a few days ago. There is a long hold list for this book in our library system.

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  19. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    There are global warming technocrats.
    There are fossil fuel technocrats.
    There are electric power technocrats.
    There are even bio-fuel technocrats like Khosla.

    That’s the problem.

    Like the humorist Will Rogers once said:

    ” I never met an unbiased man I didn’t like.”

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  20. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Some else once said”

    “Show me a man without strong opinions and prejudices, and I’ll show you a dead man”

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  21. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    You might get some economist technocrats to look at your gas tax proposal to see if it might cause inflation or not. 

    By all means get a second opinion as doctors and technocrats can often be wrong.

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  22. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    You might get some economist technocrats to look at your gas tax proposal to see if it might cause inflation or not.

    Or we could examine actual cases in Europe. They have managed it fine, and as a result have much lower per capita energy consumption while enjoying a high standard of living.

    RR

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  23. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    By all means get a second opinion as doctors and technocrats can often be wrong.

    mac~

    And politicians are always right I suppose? I’d rather trust the technocrats than politicians who have made some backroom deal with lobbyists and are beholden to a special interest group — such as our 42 farm state senators and the NCGA.

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  24. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Yes, we could look to the European example. They have a very good railway system, .high speed rail, light rail and streetcars most of which we do not have,

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  25. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Yeah, with a GDP/capita somewhat less than Mississippi, IIRC.

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  26. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Perry said:

    Bryce has some facts right. Problem is, he uses those facts to distort reality. He tells us that housecats kill 3000 times more birds than windmills, but expects us to kill the windmill, instead of the housecat.


     

    To be honest, I am less worried about the bird kill issue and much more interested in whether it can be shown with data that the addition of wind power actually saved fossil fuel. Bryce’s contention is that it effectively doesn’t given the cycling up and down of gas-fired plants in order to compensate for the intermmitency.

    It seems that this should be easy to answer, by taking Texas and comparing the amount of electricity that is being consumed curently versus the fossil fuels/nuclear power that it took to make that electricity. The expectation would be that we should see the fossil fuel and nuclear share of that mix dropping.

    The problem is that I haven’t been able to find the data. I have been on several Texas government sites looking for it.

    RR

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  27. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Yeah, with a GDP/capita somewhat less than Mississippi, IIRC.

    Rufus~

    Have you ever been in Europe? I’ve lived in both Germany and Mississippi (Columbus), and based on my experience, the quality of life of the average German is much higher than that of the average Mississippian.

    You could certainly cherry pick and find Mississippians who live very high on the hog*, but I’m talking about the average.
    ______
    * For example that corrupt CEO who defrauded people while running a medical insurance company in Jackson a few years ago.

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  28. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Rufus said:

    Yeah, with a GDP/capita somewhat less than Mississippi, IIRC.


     

    On per capita GDP, some are higher than the U.S. and some are lower:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…..per_capita

    All of Western Europe looks to be well above Mississippi’s per capita GDP:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L…..nominal%29

    Most of Europe also gets more GDP from a barrel of oil than we do:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G…..per_barrel

    RR

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  29. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    mac said:

    Yes, we could look to the European example. They have a very good railway system, .high speed rail, light rail and streetcars most of which we do not have,


     

    You ever ask yourself why that is? High gas taxes drive people to demand public transportation. If their gas taxes were low, they would have much less support for their mass transit systems.

    RR

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  30. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Yes, Wendell, I’ve been in Europe. I’ve sat in a small overpriced hotel room, and drunk overpriced coffee out of itty bitty cups. I’ve watched the people drive down the itty bitty streets in their itty bitty cars back to their itty bitty apts after going down to the itty bitty store and drooling over the itty bitty Japanese electronics that they can’t afford to buy because of their high import taxes, and VAT taxes, and who knows what all taxes. I’ve paid money to take a leak in a restaurant, and paid more for a plate of spaghetti than a farmer pays for a wheat field.

    You can definitely have ol rufus’s seat on the next flight, Bubba.

    The beer was good, though.

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  31. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Europe had a good rail system in the 1960′s, Thatcher didn’t increase the gas tax in England 300% until the 1980s.

    You have got the cart before the horse.

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  32. By Wendell Mercantile on October 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Rufus~

    You sound like the typical American tourist — were you wearing your Bermuda shorts and wearing a Hawaiian shirt too?

    I guess you have had to live there to understand. (I’ve lived in three different German villages, sent my daughter to German schools, and worked hard to become part of the neighborhood.)

    While living in Germany I traveled all over Europe. When I lived in Columbus, MS I traveled all over Mississippi and Alabama. Believe me, even in the poorest parts of Spain, Greece, and Italy, the people are healthier and have a better quality of life than those I saw in the poorest parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

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  33. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I’ll stick with Mississip, thank ye.

    [link]      
  34. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

     

    Robert,

    By the way, revenue from the gas tax in England goes into the general
    fund.  It is not earmarked for ANYTHING.

    And, that is exactly what will happen to the U.S. gas tax.  The
    politicians will not be able to resist the temptation.

    If you want to get away from OPEC then put a tariff or import tax on OPEC
    oil as Paul suggested.  Take the direct
    route.  Of coirse, the big oil companies
    will never let it happen, just as they will never allow any gas tax money to be
    set aside for an R&D effort, whose express purpose is to destroy the oil
    business by finding a substitute for oil.

    Someone says let’s install a gas tax to make gas $6 a gallon.  Then, all of a sudden oil goes to $180 and adds another $3 to
    the price.  Now gas is $9 a gallon.

    I don’t know what the Europeans plan to do when crude goes to $180.  Walk, I guess.

    Or, they could use their well-developed, fast and efficient passenger rail system to
    get around, a system that the United States does not have.

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  35. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    mac said:

    Europe had a good rail system in the 1960′s, Thatcher didn’t increase the gas tax in England 300% until the 1980s.

    You have got the cart before the horse.


     

    No, what I said was correct: “High gas taxes drive people to demand public transportation. If their

    gas taxes were low, they would have much less support for their mass

    transit systems.” That is true. I have lived there; high gas prices cause people to walk, bike, and take public transit.

    Further, reagarding your comment about Europe’s rail system and Thatcher’s tax increases — the UK is not the whole of Europe; it isn’t even a large part of Europe. In fact, many continental Europeans don’t consider Brits to be “really” Europeans.

    RR

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  36. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Word’s been all over the intertubes, today, that the EPA is looking at a CAFE of 62 MPG by 2012. The interesting thing is that no one from any of the car companies has been out pooh-poohing the idea.

    Combine the 62 mpg with the RFS 2 of 36 Billion Gallons of Ethanol, and things start looking a whole lot different. That would put our need for private transport fuel at less than 70 Billion Gallons.

    If you call it 66, and subtract 36 for ethanol, that leaves us needing about 30 Billion Gallons of Gasoline/yr (less than we can produce from our own domestic oil.) Jes sayin.

    [link]      
  37. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Uh, yeah, that should have been 2025.

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  38. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    mac said:

     

    I don’t know what the Europeans plan to do when crude goes to $180.  Walk, I guess.

    Or, they could use their well-developed, fast and efficient passenger rail system to

    get around, a system that the United States does not have.


     

    The could of course drive their solar-powered electri cars. You believe in that future, right? If it can’t happen in Europe at $180, it sure isn’t happening in the U.S.

    Of course the U.S. could have the same system if people demanded it. They would if gas prices were higher.

    RR

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  39. By Rufus on October 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Don’t worry; you’re going to get your higher gas prices soon enough (Soon enough for Me, anyway.)

    The problem with high gas taxes, other than being hard on poor ol’ rufus, is it puts the government rooting for the wrong side. All of a sudden it’s to “Their” benefit the more gasoline you use.

    We’re probably looking at $3.30 to $3.40/gal next summer. That’ll get the old mare runnin’.

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  40. By Perry on October 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

     If it can’t happen in Europe at $180, it sure isn’t happening in the U.S.


     

    Problem is, Europe taxes the hell out of everything, including electicity…….renewable or not, as well as biofuels. You’d think EV’s would have an advantage with $6 gas, but not if electricity is 35 cents per kwh.

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  41. By jcsr on October 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Robert Rapier says. “High gas taxes drive people to demand mass transportation.”
    Is that a good thing or bad?

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  42. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Robert,

    The last time I checked Britain was part of the European Union. The rest of the post speaks for itself.

    3:02 PM – Sep 14, 2000 (Updated 3:04 PM – Sep 14, 2000) EDT Fuel protests force some British supermarkets to ration food by Darcy Maulsby While fuel protests in Britain are winding down, supermarkets continue to feel the effects of the crisis, as some grocers shelves remain empty.

    The protests, which were targeted to cut fuel taxes, also disrupted delivery networks throughout Britain. Industry leaders said the complex logistical operations that keep move food supplies from producers to distributors to supermarkets may not return to normal for three more weeks.

    Supermarkets have felt the effects of the fuel protests in a number of ways. Some stores reported that their sales jumped 300 percent as consumers panicked and bought mass quantities of staples, including bread and vegetables, before fuel supplies ran out. Checkouts were also flooded with people who feared that other people s panic purchases would empty the shelves.

    Many supermarkets were forced to use rationing systems to deal with the situation. Some Tesco stores restricted customers to three loaves of bread each, while one Safeway store allowed just one loaf per customer.

    Getting the food delivery system moving again will not happen overnight, say British officials. Tanker trucks have to start moving, and fuel pumps must be replenished, before grocery store shelves can be restocked. Until then, officials said it will be difficult to gauge the full extent of the impact this week s fuel crisis on Britain s food industry.

    While fuel protests are abating in Britain, protests in Germany are heating up. Reuters news service reported that thousands of farmers, truckers and taxi drivers jammed traffic in two German cities today, and oil refineries were hit in nationwide protests over rising fuel prices.

    About 100 farmers temporarily blockaded the main entrance to one plant near the Dutch border, causing oil tankers to line up for several miles.

    http://www.agweb.com/news/news…..kingnews=1

    ———————————————————————————————————

    French truckers block roads in fuel protest

    Agence France-Presse
    First Posted 08:13:00 07/01/2008

    Filed Under: Road Transport, Protest, Oil & Gas – Downstream activities
    PARIS — Hundreds of truckers staged new protests against high fuel prices across France on Monday, blocking main highways and snarling commuter traffic around Paris.
    Between 2,000 and 3,000 trucks took part in the demonstrations, according to the National Transport Operators Federation (FNTR), the industry’s main body with 12,500 members.
    ——————————————————————————————————
    Robert,

    Your assert that high fuel taxes work wonderfully for Europeans. Apparently, they do not, Protests also occurred in Belgium and other places. These were protests against the high fuel taxes paid in Europe.

    [link]      
  43. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Your assert that high fuel taxes work wonderfully for Europeans. Apparently, they do not, Protests also occurred in Belgium and other places. These were protests against the high fuel taxes paid in Europe.

    I lived there; I know all about the protests. You aren’t actually rebutting anything I am saying. When I pointed out that people in Europe choose rail because of high gas prices, you cited me something from Britain as a rebuttal — but it didn’t rebut my point.

    Now, you cite me fuel protests as a sign that gas taxes there don’t work. You are confused. That people don’t like them should be obvious. After all, their high gas taxes are on top of high income taxes. The question is “Do they work?” The answer is yes. People drive more fuel efficient cars, walk and bike more, and take public transportation at a much higher level than in the U.S.

    RR

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  44. By mac on October 1, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Robert,

    Your original post said First of all, ” I doubt that you lived in Europe when the protests occurred.” Apparently. you have changed the post for ( for reasons unknown)

    No, I did not live in Europe during the protests. I lived in Europe long before the protests began, probably long before you were even born.

    [link]      
  45. By rrapier on October 1, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Robert,

    Your original post said First of all, ” I doubt that you lived in Europe when the protests occurred.” Apparently. you have changed the post for ( for reasons unknown)

    You are mistaken. I haven’t edited any of my posts here. You were the first one to bring up fuel protests (unless someone else did and I missed it). But I certainly didn’t bring up, nor did I change a post. The first time I mentioned it was in response to you (and that post wasn’t edited after posting it).

    However I did in fact live in Europe during both the 2000 and the 2008 protests you cited.

    RR

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  46. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Robert,

    You lived in Europe ? So did I, This is a standard by which we aniliyse comments on the Blog., Come in Robert, you can do better than that.

    [link]      
  47. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Robert,

    You lived in Europe ? So did I, This is a standard by which we aniliyse comments on the Blog., Come in Robert, you can do better than that.

    Mac, your replies are making less and less sense. I have answered you on the gas tax several different ways. Don’t try to pretend “I lived in Europe” was my answer.

    RR

    P.S. I did edit this one after posting, but not the earlier one.

    [link]      
  48. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I see that you did  not “post” my last post 

     

    Very good Robert .

     

    Perhaps you are a bit better at “poitiics”,  than I suspected..

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  49. By armchair261 on October 2, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Of course, the big oil companies
    will never let it happen, just as they will never allow any gas tax money to be set aside for an R&D effort, whose express purpose is to destroy the oil
    business by finding a substitute for oil.

    I just don’t know where such thinking comes from, especially after seeing the pounding the oil industry has taken over the past 6 months. It should be pretty obvious that the oil industry can’t just get whatever it wants, and it should be obvious that politicians everywhere make a hobby out of exploiting anti-industry sentiment. Apparently people who believe this kind of stuff must also believe that the relatively tiny California Coastal Commission is even more powerful than mighty Big Oil itself; oil companies have been kept out of offshore CA exploration for about 40 years now. Why do the oil companies “let this happen?”

    I also believe that any industry that survives, as Mac seems to believe the oil industry does, by suppressing a better mousetrap, is not a very smart industry. Such a poor strategy. Wouldn’t it be far better for the oil industry to get some skin in the game and/or buy renewable technology, rather than try to stick its finger in a dike? Mac must think that Nokia executives and shareholders are upset because Nokia is no longer in the timber industry.

    [link]      
  50. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 1:46 am

    As Crazy and bizzare and somertimes incompehesible as Kit P is,  one thing he got  right,  You will never admit that are wrong.

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  51. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 1:47 am

    mac said:

    I see that you did  not “post” my last post 

     

    Very good Robert .

     

    Perhaps you are a bit better at “poitiics”,  than I suspected..


     

    Mac, your behavior here is trending toward the bizarre. No post of yours has been held up. I get an e-mail every time a post goes up, and you have posts up for every e-mail I have received. I don’t know what else to tell you. Posts don’t get held up; they go up immediately. If one of yours didn’t go up immediately, then perhaps you did something wrong. 

    Further, I don’t appreciate the insinuations.

    RR

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  52. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 1:52 am

    mac said:

    As Crazy and bizzare and somertimes incompehesible as Kit P is,  one thing he got  right,  You will never admit that are wrong.


     

    Well now you are one to talk about crazy and bizarre this evening. I don’t know if you are sick, tired, or drinking, but you have 1). Accused me of changing a post I never changed; 2). Accused me of not posting something you wrote. Both accusations are completely wrong, so I have no idea where you are coming up with this stuff. I have to consider the possibility at this point that you are just trolling. 

    But for me to admit I am wrong, you have to show that I am wrong. You haven’t even sniffed a rebuttal of my position.  You have posted all sorts of red herrings, but you haven’t addressed the core point that gas taxes in Europe has driven them to embrace public transit and use less oil overall. And you can’t, so out come the red herrings.

    RR

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  53. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Typo, typo, typo………………..

     

    Holy Catfish.  I forgot the most important part——-, the punch-line.

     

    “You will never admit that are YOU are wrong”:

     

    Sorry, for rhe typo.

     

     

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  54. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Robert,

    The Europeans didn’t have any transportation system after WWII. They were sitting on a pile of rubble. What would you do first ? Set up a large manufacturing business specializing in high-end sports-cars or re-build the railroads ?

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  55. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Robert,

     

    Just answer me this.  If high gas (crude) prices caused this recent recession (as you claim) then what will abitraririly

    maufactured high gas prices (gas tax) do to the economy ?

    You have never answered this question, although I have asked it numerous times.

    [link]      
  56. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 3:59 am

     

    Robert,

     

    In regard to your remarks about solarr power and BEVs,  I have only this to saiy.

     

    There are over 130,000 solar roofs in Sri Lanka as we read this.

     

    100,000 in Kenya.

     

    Uganda ? ,,,, frankly………. I lost count.

     

    India ? …… Seventy thousand solar roofs in just one province of India.

     

    Japan ?  40,000 solar roofs installed in Tokyo alone (past tense) as of Maech 2010.

     

    Electric cars ? 

     

    Robert once said (on his old blog) that he expected either his chilfren or grand-children might one day driive an electric car.

     

    I hate to tell you this Robert, but if you want to drive an electric car,  you don’t have to wait,  You can buy a Bissan Leaf. TODAY.

     

     

     

    [link]      
  57. By paul-n on October 2, 2010 at 4:38 am

    The Europeans didn’t have any transportation system after WWII. They were sitting on a pile of rubble. What would you do first ? Set up a large manufacturing business specializing in high-end sports-cars or re-build the railroads ?

    I don;t quite k ow where you got that idea from.  Berlin and Dresden’s railway maybe, but  the rest survived mostly intact.  Paris had 13 Metro lines built before WW2, and didn’t add line 14 until 1998, so there was not much “rebuilding” done there.

    The difference between there and here is that a whole bunch of rail and streetcar lines got pulled up all over the continent in the 30′s and 40′s.  some replaced with roads, some just abandoned.  

    Germany, of course, built both railways and high end cars – Ferdinand Porsche got back into the swing of things as soon as he could, and produced this;

     

    Porsche 356, first built in 1950, last built in 1984.  The first model had a 1.1L engine and made a heart stopping 46hp (that is 6 more than the X-prize wining car!)

     

    The difference between high crude prices and high tax oil products prices is the amount of money leaving the country.

    At the peak of $147/barrel, with imports at 12mbd, that is $1.7bn leaving the country, every day.  The average price for that year was $92, and 4.7bn barrels were imported so that is  $432bn that left the country, or $1400 per person, on oil imports.  

    In 2003, oil prices averaged $33/bbl, imports were 4.5bn bbl for a total $150bn, or $490 per capita.  So that is a massive amount of money leaving the economy, much of which does not return.  If that rise had been caused by taxes, the money would still be here.

    Much of the oil is used for productive purposes, but guys driving their hummers and escalades on the beach is not one of them, and neither, really, are tens of millions of commuters stuck in traffic in trucks and suv’s.  If they were in smaller cars they would be just as stuck, but using a lot less fuel while doing so, and the transit commuters are using less still, or none.

    Look at the economy of any rural town – over the same period, they saw an extra $1k/year/person leave the town for oil, and not come back. IF   it was being collected as gas taxes, AND ( this is the key part of the plan) then being paid back by rebates/income tax cuts, then most of that money would return to the town.  Assuming at least some are able to reduce fuel usage, then that town (and the country) will keep more money in its pocket – simple as that.  

     

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  58. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Sorry Paul,

    The so called tax rebate money will just flow out of the country as it always has, The only difference is that we will be buying TV’s from China, Korea and Japan, shirts from Indonesia, flip-flops from Bangladesh, German sports-cars and pocket radios from Mexico,

    Big deal !!!!

    It will NOT create American jobs, reduce the balance of payments or any other naive thing,

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  59. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 5:20 am

    The money will NOT stay in the United States for the most part… Comprende ?

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  60. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 6:15 am

    I don’t know where to start. RR has done a good job at rebutting some of the erroneous information here. But there is one fallacy that seems to have taken root: that high gasoline taxes necessarily go hand in hand with a higher overall tax take by the government. There is no reason why that has to be so.

    Here is a comparison of personal and corporate income-tax rates in OECD countries.

    Note that personal income tax rates are generally higher in most European countries, but they are significantly lower in Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand, which (apart from Mexico) also have high excise taxes on transport fuels. Personal income taxes are also lower in Ireland, Japan, Australia and Iceland than in the United States. And they are only slightly higher than the USA’s in Switzerland.

    Mac writes:

    The so called tax rebate money will just flow out of the country as it always has, The only difference is that we will be buying TVs from China, Korea and Japan, shirts from Indonesia, flip-flops from Bangladesh, German sports-cars and pocket radios from Mexico. Big deal !!!! It will NOT create American jobs, reduce the balance of payments or any other naive thing.

    That strikes me as a strange argument against tax-shifting, through an income tax rebate, lower income-taxes or some other form. Mac seems to be saying that if people pay more for petroleum fuels but spend less on other taxes — i.e., have the same disposable income as before – they will simply spend their rebate on other imported goods. Why would they be prone to do that any more than before? This logic reminds me of the lady who wrote to the editor of my local newspaper years ago, following the introduction of daylight savings time, complaining that the extra hour of sunlight was killing her lawn.

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  61. By Duracomm on October 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Ronald Steenblik,

    I think a lot of people would not object to tax shifting from and income tax to a gas tax on a philosophical basis.

    However there are going to be strong objections based on the competence of the political class to initiate such a change.

    The first objection would be that they would increase the gas tax and never get around to reducing the income tax.

    The second objection would be that the current political class is utterly incapable of enacting such a change without causing substantial, unexpected problems.

    Here is an example of that problem.

    The bills regulations that are causing the problems are being implemented now. The bills insurance exchanges designed to minimize the problem are not enacted until 2014. Big oops.

    How ObamaCare May Disrupt Your Health Plan

    Maine Superintendent of Insurance Mila Kofman wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking Sebelius to waive the MLR rules for Maine until 2014.

    “One insurer has indicated its intent to pull out of individual markets (and has explicitly named one state where that decision has already been made),” wrote Kofman. “Prior to 2014, implementation of an 80% medical loss ratio requirement may destabilize the individual health insurance market in Maine.”

    Susan Voss, Iowa’s Commissioner of Insurance, has also asked Sebelius for a waiver. “…Without some form of ‘phase-in’ for these individual carriers, consumers in Iowa will be left with fewer choices.”

    Residents of states whose insurance markets aren’t up to Washington’s snuff are in for a serious disruption of their health care. This situation has all the makings of a giant mess.

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  62. By Wendell Mercantile on October 2, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I hate to tell you this Robert, but if you want to drive an electric car, you don’t have to wait, You can buy a Bissan (sic) Leaf. TODAY.

    Mac~

    Actually, you can’t. The Leaf allotment for 2011 is already spoken for. The 2011 Nissan Leaf is sold out

    Nissan Motors has announced that as of September 23rd, they are no longer taking reservations in the US market for the upcoming 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car. If you haven’t reserved your rights to a 2011 Leaf – you’re out of luck for now.

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  63. By russ-finley on October 2, 2010 at 11:59 am

    …the introduction of daylight savings time, that the extra hour of sunlight was killing her lawn.

     

    If polls showed that a signifcant number of voters shared her concern, their senator would enact legislation to give them a tax credit for lawn fertilizer, which segways nicely with the following quote:

    …there are going to be strong objections based on the competence of the political class to initiate such a change.

     

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  64. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    A gas tax is all academic anyway. Just one more thing we might coulda done 20 years ago to prepare for what’s hitting us now. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. We might shouldn’t have had CAFE exemptions for gas guzzlers like the Hummer. As a nation, we made all the wrong choices when it comes to oil. All that’s left now is the 7 stages of grief.

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  65. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Whatever stage you’re in, just remember that there is hope.

     

    5. THE UPWARD TURN-
    As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

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  66. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Duracomm wrote:

    The first objection would be that they would increase the gas tax and never get around to reducing the income tax.

    That is the job of our elected representatives to deal with, no? Do you think that they would even dare to enact any more than a tiny increase in the federal gasoline and diesel taxes without offering something to taxpayers in return? Don’t you think that if they tried to there would be mass protests? It would have to be a package deal.

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  67. By Kit P on October 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Back to the original topic, RR wrote

     

    “addition of wind power actually
    saved fossil fuel. …. The expectation would be that we should see
    the fossil fuel and nuclear share of that mix dropping.”

     

    The reason that RR can not find the
    data, is that it has not been provided. In any case RR would be
    using the wrong method to analyze the issue.

     

    Electricity is a commodity that is
    bought and sold under strict regulations. If SG&E has a contract
    with a wind farm in the PNW, the amount of electricity produced, the
    time it is produced, and the transmission cost are all recorded. If,
    for example, a PNW wind farm increased output 100 MWe then another
    generator will decrease 100 MWe (law of conservation of energy).

     

    So that data exists but at this time it
    would serve no purpose to gather and publish it other than for some
    group to misuse the data. Since existing data can just as easily be
    misused, why fund knowing what actually is happening?

     

    That is the essence of the difference
    between a RPS and a carbon tax. If a state declares wind ‘renewable
    energy’ then any generation by wind counts no matter how ugly the
    environmental impact is. On the other hand, a carbon tax has to show
    that renewable energy generation offset fossil fuels.

     

    The are rules to determine carbon
    credits. Voluntary reductions have been tracked. The big winners
    are the coal and nuke industry. The reason to improve performance of
    a power plant is plain old economics.

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  68. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Ronald Steenblik said:

     It would have to be a package deal.


     

    It could all be done at the dealership. Figure the lifetime gasoline usage and apply the tax. Give everyone a rebate on the bottom line. The more efficient your new purchase, the more you save. A Civic might even make you money. A Hummer would cost you. Of course, that’s what CAFE was supposed to do anyway. Politicians managed to screw it up.

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  69. By Biocrude on October 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Howdy,

    So, how do I become officially registered on this blog?  Do I just give a quick bio and background on myself?  Here it is:

    I am from the Northwest, am an avid outdoorsman, and have spent time in Montana and Alaska. (RR, I think you mentioned a while ago that you’ve never been there.  Well, I recommend high-tailing it up there before all the glaciers are gone.  Truly amazing to watch a glacier calve into the water.)  I now reside in California, where I head up the Fleet Sales Division for a renewable fuel retailer.  

    @ Mac, I don’t understand how you can possibly think a gas tax is a bad thing.  In my opinion, I think it would create a more level playing field for other renewable/alternative fuels to compete, as well as make people change.  That’s what it’s all about, is convincing people that there might be a better way than using the status quo.  Think about how ridiculous it seems now that people were resisting changing from a typewriter to a computer!  Heres’ a good article from 2008 that shows increased ridership on mass transit due to high fuel prices: http://nyti.ms/aqnWhe  Yes, China and India might soak up some of the oil that we don’t use, but I think overall it will be a good thing for everyone.  As RR often states, the point is to use the least amount of petroleum possible right now, in order to mitigate the potential disastrous  consequences of a big petroleum infrastructure attack/failure anywhere in the world.  Everyone saw this recent attack on NATO fuel tankers in Pakistan, right?: http://bit.ly/9DkKAI  Al Qaeda has long known that any attack on anything petroleum, anywhere in the world will directly or indirectly harm the US financially.  Reduce the strategic value of petroleum, that should be the immediate goal right now.  

    With regard to Americans driving big trucks and SUVs, and Hummers getting CAFE credits; I have a term for here in California “The Suburban Suburban Model.”  Meaning, a lot of Californians live in the suburbs and drive a Suburban.  Luckily, just like everything else, change starts here in California, and we will combat this slowly over the coming years with legislation like SB 375 ( http://gov.ca.gov/fact-sheet/10707/ ) which requires smart mass transit/infrastructure incentives to build out more sustainable communities and reduce GHGs.  The goal is a metropolitan area more like San Francisco or New York, and less like San Jose and Los Angeles, which are concrete jungles of freeways, expressways and virtually no mass transit.  

    Remember too that the Chinese character for crisis, is comprised of two other characters, danger and opportunity.  The future is bright folks, but not unless we figure out this non sustainable energy quagmire quickly…  As my friend Evan often says, hopefully in the future, there won’t be a word for “sustainable,” there will simply be no other logical way to do something.  

    -Jake Millan 

     

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  70. By russ-finley on October 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    The Leaf allotment for 2011 is already spoken for

    A Tesla was parked in front of my house the other day. I saw that as a good omen, although I predict Tesla will soon go the way of the Delorean.

    Bryce is trying to predict the future (as I just did about the Tesla) but we all know that can’t be done with certainty, in part because predictions often alter the future. Predictions of massive traffic jams caused by construction may not materialize because the prediction altered decisions.

    For example, if a move gets started to use nuclear designs that can vary output to be used to replace peaking gas power plants, then wind suddenly becomes much more effective at reducing CO2: The Nuclear Enhanced Renewable Grid (NERG)

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  71. By Kit P on October 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    “and our landfills keep generating
    more of the stuff every day.”

     

    I think LFG is great too but a city
    that might support a 10 MWe LFG project  with garbage still  needs a 1000 MWe nuke, coal,
    coal power plant.

     

    LFG is one of the reasons I do not think ‘greens’ are very serious about AGW.  It is a no brainer.  Sure Bubbaville might just now be gitting the news but places that take 20 years to pick the low hanging fruit are going backwards fast. 

     

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  72. By paul-n on October 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Perry, you don’t want to do it at the dealership.  How does that help the urban couple who have found a way to go carless?  They are still paying higher costs for other goods and services, because of higher feul costs, but then are deprived of any tax rebate to pay for them.

    The recent cash for clunkers was a good example of the wrong way to do it.  They should have paid people when they junked their old cars, regardless of whether or not they bought a new one.  Instead they HAD to buy a new car – someone who moved closer to their work (or started wrokign from home) has made great steps to reduce fuel usage, doesn;t need their old vehicle, but can;t get the benefit unless they buy a new one.

    The idea is to pay for oil saving behavior. In that regard, the cash foe clunkers program could have been pro-rated to pay more for larger vehicles.  There is more benefit to removing a 30yo pick up than a 30 Honda Civic from the road.

    Put the money in the hands of the people.  While Mac may think it will all get spent on imported stuff, that is simply not true.  I expect that today, many people would use it to pay down some of their debt, and there is some evidence to show that is what people are doing.  someone who is unemployed (and there are many of those) is hardly going to be buying a new tv.  

    If you look at the stats from the Federal Reserve on consumer credit, you can see that it has decreased in every period since since peaking in 2008, and collectively, $140bn of consumer (non-mortgage) debt has been paid down since then.  I think if people were getting a gas tax rebate of some kind, that debt would be going down faster.

     

     

     

     

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  73. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Perry wrote:

    It could all be done at the dealership. Figure the lifetime gasoline usage and apply the tax.

    How they going to do that, Perry? How many people know how much they are going to drive over the lifetime of the car? And if they do know, and are asked, how many are not going to err on the low side? And what if they sell it after two years?

    If, on the other hand, you are talking about average lifetime gasoline usage for a “typical” driver, then what you do is penalize people who may need a heavy-duty, fuel-inefficient vehicle that they may only use occassionally.

    California is considering introducing a feebate system for vehicles. Here is what the Auto Alliance said about it:

    If the government determines who gets rebates and who pays fees by vehicle size, there is an extra tax burden on farmers, tradesmen, small business and large families who depend on these vehicles. If the government decides who wins and who loses by picking the best and worst performers in each vehicle class, then there will be a situation where a small car will carry a fee while a pickup truck generates a rebate.

    One could say that “they would say that, wouldn’t they”, but they do have a point. I am not rejecting the idea outright, just warning that deciding the optimal fee and rebate cannot be done with engineering precision.

    For example, in August 2008 France introduced a “bonus/malus” (bonus and penalty) system to encourage a shift to lower-emission vehicles. As explained by the Green Car Congress:

    The highest bonus for the buying the lowest carbon car (below 60 g/km—essentially only EVs qualify) is €5,000 (US$7,349), while the highest malus (extra tax) is €2,600 (US$3,821). Buyers of low-emission vehicles who also scrap a vehicle older than 15 years receive a super bonus of €300.

    The motivation for this measure was not entirely environmental, however. France’s car companies have generally targetted the small, fuel-efficient end of the market. Unlike their German rivals, they have never produced SUVs (sold heavily in America and to people who get company cars and company gas credit cards). They have also focussed on high-performance diesel vehicles, which produce lower CO2 emissions per km than their gasoline-powered counterparts. So, in short, the scheme favored French (and Italian) vehicles. (Such a scheme if introduced in the United States would probably favor imports.)

    By the way, France’s scheme was not revenue-neutral. The cost to France’s budget is reported to have been around €140 million (US$206 million) as a result of greater-than-expected sales.

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  74. By paul-n on October 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    @ Biocrude,

    Jake, if you view the blog via the “forums”, you will see two tags at the top right, one to log in, and one to register.

    The forums is a much better way to view the blog, and has bunch of other topics, and you can start your own discussion thread too.

    Good to have a another fuel industry person on board, and especially good to have you identify yourself – I think it promotes a higher level of discussion than anonymous contributors.

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  75. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Ronald Steenblik said:

    How they going to do that, Perry? How many people know how much they are going to drive over the lifetime of the car? And if they do know, and are asked, how many are not going to err on the low side? And what if they sell it after two years?


     

    Never mind the individual situation Ronald. Apply the same formula across the board. Estimate the gas usage for X number of miles driven over its anticipated lifetime and apply the tax. If the lifetime estimate is 150,000 miles, a Hummer would need 15,000 gallons of gas. A Prius would need 3000 or so. At $1 a gallon tax, the Hummer driver would be out $10,000 with a $5000 rebate. The Prius driver would make $2000 on the deal. An EV buyer would make $5000.

     

    The feebate would raise or lower a vehicles resale value accordingly. New car buyers already lose money when they driive off the lot. I wouldn’t expect them to lose much more under a feebate system.

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  76. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    OK, I see now what you are saying, Perry. What you say make sense. I’ll have to think through potential unintended consequences. Here and here are some studies [PDF warning] done to inform the discussion in California.

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  77. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Here’s a quote for you, Perry, from a study by the EU’s Joint Research Council, Feebate and scrappage policy instruments: Environmental and economic impacts for the EU27:

    In total, households would spend more money on cars because the higher cost is not fully compensated by the fuel savings. Budget neutrality for the government is shown to be achievable, especially in the short term, but may be more difficult to guarantee in the longer term.

    In general, the real-life outcome may vary depending on the initial purchase patterns and the initial taxation regime which both depend on the situation of each country. At a macro-economic level, the sectors directly concerned (the automotive sector and the supply sectors, metal sector) would gain both in terms of value added and employment. Depending on the feebate scheme, the net effects on other sectors would be either neutral or negative. In total a small net creation of employment is expected in most cases.

    In conclusion, the feebate instrument would benefit both the environment and the economy.

    Of course, to be budget-neutral, the “pivot point” of the feebate system would have to be continuously adjusted upward (or the amount of the fee reduced) as the fuel efficiency of the vehicles purchased continued to improve.

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  78. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    mac said:

    Robert,

     

    Just answer me this.  If high gas (crude) prices caused this recent recession (as you claim) then what will abitraririly

    maufactured high gas prices (gas tax) do to the economy ?

    You have never answered this question, although I have asked it numerous times.


     

    I have answered you that in several different ways at several different times. By shifting the tax burden, you aren’t actually taking the money out of the economy. There is a big difference in that and spiking oil prices that cause a mass exodus of cash out of the U.S.

    RR

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  79. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Kit P said:

    Back to the original topic, RR wrote

     

    “addition of wind power actually

    saved fossil fuel. …. The expectation would be that we should see

    the fossil fuel and nuclear share of that mix dropping.”

     

    The reason that RR can not find the

    data, is that it has not been provided. In any case RR would be

    using the wrong method to analyze the issue.


     

    No, I am asking the question that needs to be asked. The issue is not whether 100 megawatt-hours of wind caused another generator somewhere to produce 100 megawatt-hours less. The question is about energy savings. Bryce’s claim was that the cycling up and down is inefficient, hence the energy savings from the wind power isn’t as claimed.

    My point is that it should be quite easy to pull data to show the total electricity production for an area broken down by the amount of energy used. If 100 megawatt-hours required X MMBTU of natural gas, and then wind comes along and supplies 30 megawatt-hours, then I expect gas consumption to go down by 30% (with adjustments for efficiency). Very simple concept, really, and the right method to analyze the issue.

    Further, numbers like that do exist. I couldn’t find them for Texas, but I have seen them nationally. The problem is that wind is such a small component nationally, it probably won’t show up above the noise.

    RR

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  80. By David on October 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Regulations will not improve things, it will just give more loopholes to exploit, and corporations, brilliant individuals, and policians will continue to create, locate and exploit them.

    Many people who endorse regulations, whether for financial or environmental applications, don’t realize unintended consequences. Yes, true unfettered capitalism can have consequences as well, but we will never know what those consequences actually are. The federal government has been dabbling in our markets since the inception of the nation (immediately started taxing whiskey to pay for the revolutionary war — when the constitution clearly only allowed tariffs).

    A buddy was pointing out to me a few days ago, even the contents of our road surfaces wouldn’t be as oil based as they are now if the market was allowed to optimize road surfaces (right now we have a lot of oil tied up in the asphalt that the we all drive on today — including pedal bikers and pedestrians — and those cement road surfaces? Read up on how concrete is made? Very energy intensive.). And many oil haters will tell you everyday, if the government didn’t invest military and diplomatic resources in maintaining our oil supply, oil would truly achieve its rightful price, granted if the price actually went down when all was said done, those same people would be begging for government regulation of oil prices. Go figure…

    The market has not been allowed to optimize things, and when the super-regulated & government supported (roads, welfare, even military should not be considered a sacred cow in the end) market breaks, we pretend what we previously had was “unfettered capitalism”, and we need to tighten up on the market again.

    In the end, what will end up with is no free market at all, and when that happens people will understand, even at the Walmart buyer level. 50 years ago, people would have been up in arms had the government attempted to regulate how their communities had to be built and had to be located. That it is even on the agenda in California shows how far we have fallen in our outlook on what true freedom and free market principles entail.

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  81. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Robert Rapier said:

     then I expect gas consumption to go down by 30% (with adjustments for efficiency).


     

    I’m sure that’s exactly what you’d find in those numbers too. Bryce’s argument is that a coal or NG plant will burn more fuel if you lower the power output. That’s ridiculous. They would have to lose more than 50% of their efficiency when powered down by half, for instance. What piece of modern, or even ancient, equipment has efficiency gains or losses like that?

    A driver gets better mileage on the highway. But, he’ll use a lot less fuel driving the same amount of time in the city. The same analogy applies with these coal plants.

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  82. By Kit P on October 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    “use nuclear designs that can vary output to be used to replace
    peaking gas power plants,”

    Current nuclear designs already can load follow and already do
    that in France. Since about 70% of electricity in the US comes from
    fossil fuel, it is going to be a long time before renewable energy
    and nuclear is a factor in supplying electricity for BEV.

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  83. By paul-n on October 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Perry, I think Bryce is saying it will use more fuel per kWh produced, and this is true, and will always be.

    Any system will have its most efficient operating point, and that is (usually, though not always) where a baseload system is run.   BUt cycle up and down and you are moving away from that point.  Cycle down and you will be using less fuel total, but more per kWh as you are not as efficient.

    That is why simple cycle GT’s are used for peaking, and combined cycle for baseload.  The GT is just about as efficient either way,  but for steady operation the steam cycle can improve the system efficiency – but it’s not worth the expense of having it if the plant is a peaker and does not operate all the time, and you can’t get your steam up when you are turning on at minutes notice.

    And the more unpredictable loads and generation (i.e. wind) you add, the more you need to have the standby power.  With the exception of hydro, any other standby will not be as efficient as baseload.

     

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  84. By Wendell Mercantile on October 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    right now we have a lot of oil tied up in the asphalt that the we all drive on today

    David~

    Only a small percentage (~5%) of each barrel of oil becomes asphalt. Asphalt is the residual left over at the end of refining after all the high-value fractions such as gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel have been distilled off. Asphalt could probably be burned in a manner similar to coal to produce electricity, but if it wasn’t for the providence of using it as a water-proofing material in roofs and basements, and as a cement to hold aggregate together as a road surface, asphalt would be little more than a waste product.

    Advanced refinery techniques have meant less asphalt at the end of refinery which is the main reason its price has gone up for road builders. (Less asphalt means higher prices.)

    Perhaps the best way to use asphalt as an energy source would be to figure out how to collect and use all the solar energy a black, asphalt road captures from the Sun. (Have you ever tried to walk barefoot across a blacktop road on a sunny day?)

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  85. By rrapier on October 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Perry said:

    Robert Rapier said:

     then I expect gas consumption to go down by 30% (with adjustments for efficiency).


     

    I’m sure that’s exactly what you’d find in those numbers too.


     

    The question is, if wind has gone from zero to 30%, what was the change in fossil fuel consumption? It will be less than 30% due to cycling. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. The question is how much less. Only with that kind of information can you say whether the costs were worth the savings.

    RR

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  86. By ronald-steenblik on October 2, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    RR,

    Does this graph (from here), which shows part-load efficiency curves for various combined-cycle systems with a single gas turbine, waste heat recovery boiler, and steam turbine, show the information you need?

    If so, it suggests that conversion efficiency falls off at about half the rate as the reduction in power output from base-load capacity! That is to say, a 40% reduction in power output from peak means only 80% of the conversion efficiency at peak. (The graph seems to be for small units, however, and may not be valid for typically larger ones.)

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  87. By Duracomm on October 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Ronald Steenblik said,

    That is the job of our elected representatives to deal with, no? Do you think that they would even dare to enact any more than a tiny increase in the federal gasoline and diesel taxes without offering something to taxpayers in return?

    Don’t you think that if they tried to there would be mass protests? It would have to be a package deal.

    The politicians dared to pass obamacare in spite off massive popular opposition. There were substantial mass protests against it yet it still passed.

    Now the passage of that bill is probably going to cause a fair amount of the politicians to be in other jobs after the elections this year.

    That does not change that the unpopular bill will still be in place despite the wishes of the majority of voters.

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  88. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    David said:

    “Regulations will not improve things, it will just give more loopholes to exploit, and corporations, brilliant individuals, and policians will continue to create, locate and exploit them.”

    Brilliantly stated. Any thinking person knows this………….

    Adios, to the gas tax…………..

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  89. By Duracomm on October 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Ronald Steenblik,

    I would guess thing like highly efficient combined cycle natural gas power plants would have their efficiency most damaged by not running at capacity all of the time.

    Since the waste heat from the turbine is used to boil water to run a secondary steam turbine reducing the output will reduce the output of the secondary turbine and the overall efficiency of the system.

    This points out a huge problem with all of the current “green” energy mandates enacted through a self serving baptist / bootlegger coalition.

    The politicians and mandate supporters just assumed the mandated “green” power sources would reduce emissions, decrease fuel usage, not damage existing grid infrastructure.

    The problem is nobody bothered to do the actual engineering work and research to determine if the assumptions were correct.

    Minor little detail the politicians and renewable advocates neglected.

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  90. By mac on October 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Wendell,

     

    Technocrats almost awlays represent the specialty in which they were trained.

     

    It is, therefore nearly impossible to get a consensus.

     

    Yet, these “social engineers” remain steadfast and implacable in their attempt to enforce theiir vision of the fututre upon the rest of humanity.

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  91. By Duracomm on October 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Robert Rapier said,

    My point is that it should be quite easy to pull data to show the total electricity production for an area broken down by the amount of energy used.

    Further, numbers like that do exist. I couldn’t find them for Texas, but I have seen them nationally. The problem is that wind is such a small component nationally, it probably won’t show up above the noise.

    A substantial data problem is that grid operator themselves are not sure how much usable power wind produces.

    Is Texas a Wind-Power Success or Failure?

    The Texas electricity authority, ERCOT, figures the state’s wind power capacity is only 8.7%.

    That means for every 100 megawatts installed in a wind farm, power authorities can only count on seeing 8.7 megawatts of electricity produced.

    If that 8.7 % number is correct windpower in Texas represents an utterly horrific waste of resources.

    Getting a handle on how much power wind farms actually produce is tricky business. ERCOT itself has danced between estimates at low as 3% and as high as 16% in recent years, before settling—temporarily—on the 8.7% figure.

    Temporarily, because the Texas Generation Adequacy Task Force is “concerned” with how ERCOT arrived at that figure and still aims to determine “the true capacity value of wind.”

    The picture isn’t much different in the rest of the country. Electricity regulators and utilities have tried to get a handle on how much juice wind power actually produces, and estimates vary widely—from as low as 5% to as high as 30%. Last year’s NREL report has all the details.

    The biggest problem is in measurement—should you count wind power’s production in the summer (not so windy) or winter (windier)? During the afternoon hours of peak demand, or all day? During a single year, or over a several-year period?

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  92. By Perry on October 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Ronald Steenblik said:

    If so, it suggests that conversion efficiency falls off at about half the rate as the reduction in power output from base-load capacity!


     This is all so much hooey. If it’s true that wind tends to blow more at night and in the winter, then it’s also true that most of these coal and NG plants aren’t operating at, or even near, capacity anyway. I doubt many power plants operate at optimum efficiency 24/7, with or without wind. Demand is always fluctuating.

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  93. By Rufus on October 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    We’re getting quite a bit of wind, solar, and biofuels up and running around the world, now. So, we’re getting to the stage where we can start getting some “analyzeable” data.

    It’s pretty rational, really. Spend a small amount of money (relative to the size of our Global economies,) get some projects working, and start running the numbers.

    Knowing what we think we know, or suspect, about the future availability of fossil fuel supplies we would be seriously irresponsible if we Didn’t start looking at/experimenting with Alternative energy sources.

    A good way to do that is the way the Germans did it with Solar, and we did it with ethanol – Start out with generous subsidies, and mandates, and then incrementally reduce the tax credits/feed in tariffs/ etc to see how the technologies that you helped “break through” the built-up barriers produce.

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  94. By Kit P on October 2, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    “but I have seen them nationally.”

     

    No you have not. Furthermore, it is
    not national data but specif data. You are correct that it would be
    easy to collect the data, it just nobody bothers. It is one of those
    who cares things.

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  95. By Wendell Mercantile on October 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Technocrats almost awlays (sic) represent the specialty in which they were trained.

    mac~

    I would hope so. I wouldn’t want someone trained as a nuclear physicist or engineer deciding which drugs the FDA should approve.

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  96. By OD on October 3, 2010 at 12:29 am

    If we have to turn to asphalt for an energy source, I believe our goose is truly cooked.

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  97. By Rufus on October 3, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Wendell, I will give the Europeans credit where I think they deserve credit. That doesn’t mean I want to live there.

    I’m very hard on Mississippi, from time to time, on different forums, concerning different things.

    I don’ drink Anyone’s Kool-Aid. That stuff is for children.

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  98. By Wendell Mercantile on October 2, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    A good way to do that is the way the Germans did it with Solar…

     

    Rufus~

     

    Really?  I thought you were anti-European and mocked their ways.

    Mississippi has an abundance of Sun, so why does Mississippi lag far behind Germany in solar power? I’ve lived both places and I can emphatically say the Sun shines much more in Mississippi. Wink

     

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  99. By rrapier on October 3, 2010 at 1:21 am

    David said:

    Regulations will not improve things, it will just give more loopholes to exploit, and corporations, brilliant individuals, and policians will continue to create, locate and exploit them.


     

    On the gas tax issue, though, we could make the same argument about an income tax. I fail to see how a rational person could have a problem with shifting some of their income taxes to gas taxes. As Mac says “any thinking person knows it is a bad idea.” I say any rational person can see why it is a good idea.

    RR

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  100. By rrapier on October 3, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Kit P said:

    “but I have seen them nationally.”

     

    No you have not. 


    You are wrong about that; I have. Here you see Net Generation by Energy Source: Total (All Sectors),
     

    1996 through June 2010

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/e…..le1_1.html

    Elsewhere in the EIA data you can find the volume of natural gas that went into the electricity sector (which would then tell you something about the relative efficiency):

    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_….._nus_m.htm

    The problem is that there is too much noise in the national data. You need a state that has relatively high installed wind capacity and the data for that state. If Bryce’s thesis is correct, we should see gas plants becoming less efficient as wind ramps up. You may not be able to crunch the numbers, but I can if I have the data because I know how to do this analysis.

     

    It is one of those who cares things.

    So you don’t want to know if your tax dollars are being wasted? Personally, I would like to see the data showing that we are using relatively less fossil fuel as wind power ramps up. I think that’s a very important data point; it gives us information over whether it is a good idea.

    RR

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  101. By rrapier on October 3, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Perry said:

    Ronald Steenblik said:

    If so, it suggests that conversion efficiency falls off at about half the rate as the reduction in power output from base-load capacity!


     This is all so much hooey. If it’s true that wind tends to blow more at night and in the winter, then it’s also true that most of these coal and NG plants aren’t operating at, or even near, capacity anyway. I doubt many power plants operate at optimum efficiency 24/7, with or without wind. Demand is always fluctuating.


     

    It isn’t. Night and daytime demand changes are fairly predictable. Plants can be slowly ramped down and back up. But the wind can die quickly and unexpectedly. That is the difference.

    I think it’s an important question to answer. Of the points Bryce brought up over wind, I think the question of whether it is really displacing fossil fuels is the most important. If that’s not happening, then the rest is moot.

    RR

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  102. By armchair261 on October 3, 2010 at 1:53 am

    mac said:

    David said:

    “Regulations will not improve things, it will just give more loopholes to exploit, and corporations, brilliant individuals, and policians will continue to create, locate and exploit them.”

    Brilliantly stated. Any thinking person knows this………….

    Adios, to the gas tax…………..

    So we can assume then that both Mac and David will enthusiastically endorse elimination of all regulations governing gas shale fracture stimulation and offshore drilling. And, no more drilling permits required!
     

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  103. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Armchair 261,

    I have no objection to them drilling offshore. Perhaps the permitting process makes government bureaucrats feel important since their decisions hold the power of life or death for proposed projects.. The nuclear industry also faces this same rigamarole.

    My thought is that no matter how much oil they find, it will never be enough, since demand is nearly limitless as supplies apparently shrink. I read an article once discussing the Anwar oil reserve,

    The article claimed that even if we did drill in Anwar the amount of oil it would provide the U.S. would only be enough to last 30 days at our present rate of consumption and would take nearly 15 years to pump out. If the article is correct, it might not be worth going into Anwar since it is a National Wildlife Refuge and would only provide us with about a 30 day supply, spread out over a 15 year period.

    You may know more about it than I do.and whether the article is correct or not.

    Concerning regulations and such, I like what Reagan said:

    “The Governments view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

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  104. By Anonymous One on October 3, 2010 at 5:36 am

    numbers like that do exist. I couldn’t find them for Texas, but I have seen them nationally

    Check out the first two tables at Electric Power Annual 2008 – State Data Tables

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  105. By ronald-steenblik on October 3, 2010 at 6:13 am

    So Mac, please enlighten us of your view of government: what and how you would tax (if anything), what would you regulate, and what would you subsidize?

    And how would you address what you claim is a $8 to $15 cost to the economy associated with every gallon of gasoline consumed in the America?

    Or are you saying, essentially, that we already live in the best of all possible worlds, and you would leave things exactly as they are?

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  106. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Nice find Anonymous One. I think Table ES1 in the PDF file is enough to disprove Bryce’s whacky theory. From ’07 to ’08, net generation of power was down 37,000 megawatthours. Coal, natural gas, and oil generation fell 64,000. That’s a difference of 27,000 MWH. By some strange coincidence, wind and hydro grew by about 27,000 MWH.

     

     

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  107. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Perry,

    I also watched Bryce’s little film about the Rare Earth Metals. (Lanthanides) The NiMh battery chemistry does require rare earth metals. The lithium ion battery does not,

    The Tesla Roadster has a lithium pon battery – no rare earth necessary. The Tesla roadster also uses an AC induction motor – there are no magnets in the motor, so no rare earth metals are needed for motor magnets.

    Toyota is considering using lithium batteries in their gas electric hybrids for just that reason. Once again, Bryce is out to lunch.

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  108. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 8:19 am

    A smart grid would cure a lot of what ails us. It would let utilities use electric water heaters as storage devices, for example. Instead of cranking up a dozen coal plants during peak demand, they could reduce power to millions of water heaters. People wouldn’t notice, because their water had been heated a few extra degrees during off-peak. EV’s have enormous potential for smart grids. Put enough EV’s on a smart grid and we could do away with those coal plants altogether. Texas alone could provide our electrical needs with wind power. If only we had a battery big enough to handle those windless days…..

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  109. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Those “rare earths” aren’t particularly rare Mac. The one used in permanent magnets, neodymium, is twice as abundant as iron in the earths core. Problem is, these metals are in such low concentrations on the surface, that it makes refining them prohibitively expensive. Naturally, the highest concentrations would be found where more magna came to the surface. Along continental divides and around volcanoes, for instance. The US has at least 6 sites that show high potential for rare earths. But, they won’t be profitable as long as China has $1.00 an hour labor and the propensity to undercut competition at any cost.

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  110. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Rare earths are not rare. But they are expensive, and separating them from ore is costly. Some rare earth minerals are accompanied by radioactive products, such as thorium and radium, which make extraction difficult and costly, since they pose the risk of radiation leaks. Most rare earth elements are widely distributed in the Earth’s crust. Indeed the abundance of rare earths in the Earth’s crust is higher than that of some major industrial metals. Even the least abundant rare earths are found in greater quantities than, for example, bismuth and cadmium.

    Rare earths are relatively abundant in the Earth’s crust, but discovered minable concentrations are less common than for most other ores. U.S. and world resources are contained primarily in bastnäsite and monazite. Bastnäsite deposits in China and the United States constitute the largest percentage of the world’s rare-earth economic resources, while monazite deposits in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States constitute the second largest segment. Apatite, cheralite, eudialyte, loparite, phosphorites, rare-earth-bearing (ion adsorption) clays, secondary monazite, spent uranium solutions, and xenotime make up most of the remaining resources. Undiscovered resources are thought to be very large relative to expected demand.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..-earth.htm

    [link]      
  111. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Perry,

    Yes, there are also rare earth metals in Canada, Bryce presents them as a big problem and stumbling block. Of course fear and controversy sell books just like they did right before the Y2K fiasco which turned out to be the largest non-event in human history.

    [link]      
  112. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I don’t know how Bryce manages to sell a single book. His premise is that renewables are bad, so we’ll just stick with finite resources, and hope they last forever. Bryce would have 9 billion people fight over the last barrel of oil. Thanks, but no thanks.

    [link]      
  113. By Kit P on October 3, 2010 at 10:47 am

    RR Note: Post edited for personal insults.

     

    RR wrote,

     

    “The problem is that there is too

    much noise in the national data.”

     

    Like I said RR you do not have the data

    to to answer your question. Furthermore, RR is using the incorrect

    methods to find answer.

     

    Let me repeat. You have to identify

    the individual power plant that is balancing the changes in wind

    load.

     

    RR wrote earlier,

     

    “The expectation would be that we

    should see the fossil fuel and nuclear share of that mix dropping.”

     

    If the amount of electricity this year

    is down from the previous year for nukes, it is most likely that it

    is caused by a extended overhaul of a nuke in Florida not new wind

    farms in the PNW.

     

    If the amount of electricity generated

    this year is down from the previous year for coal plants in the

    southeast, it is most likely that it is caused by a the regional

    daily spark spread for CCGT in the southeast. No, it is not the

    result of new wind farms in the PNW.  DOE actually did a study to better understand the drop in coal in the Southeast.

     

    If the amount of electricity generated

    this year is down from the previous year for PNW hydroelectric, it is

    most likely that it is caused by a drought but it could be the result

    of hydroelectric being used to balance wind. In this case, no

    fossils fuel reduction would occur. Renewable energy that meets RPS

    requirements replacing politically incorrect renewable energy.

     

    Ron S provided a curve for CCGT. We

    would need such a curve for coal plants too. Then we would need the

    hourly trading numbers. We could write a program to integrate it

    over a year. However, my engineering judgment is that wind reduces

    NG usage lowering the cost for other uses like home heating.

     

    RR wrote,

     

    “but I can if I have the data because

    I know how to do this analysis.”

     

    You do not have the data, and you do

    not know how to do the analysis unless you now understand the correct

    method.

     

    “So you don’t want to know if your

    tax dollars are being wasted?”

     

    No, I am not waste or AGW OCD. I

    learned a long time ago that worrying about government stupidity is a

    crazy maker.

     

    However, I do not think building wind

    farms is a waste of tax dollars for the reason because like I said it

    reduces the cost of NG for everyone.

     

    RR wrote,

     

    “It isn’t. Night and daytime demand

    changes are fairly predictable.”

     

    Ron S is correct and RR us wrong.

    Demand is always fluctuating. Yes, it is predictable but so is the

    wind. Grid operators have to be prepared for the unpredictable.

    Large utilities and grid operators have large staffs of

    meteorologists. The electric industry is ready 24/7.

     

    [link]      
  114. By Wendell Mercantile on October 3, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I’m very hard on Mississippi, from time to time…

     

    Rufus~

    Seriously, why does Mississippi lag so far behind with respect to solar energy? In particular, the Delta where you live seems like an ideal environment. Lots of Sun and flat with no hills to block solar panels. Have any of those many casinos from Tunica down to Greenville installed solar panels to run all their A/C and neon lights?  That seems like a way they could invest some of the money they collect (the house always wins you know) in the local economy by creating jobs for solar panel plants and installers, or are those casinos too much in the pockets of the politicians in Jackson?

     

     

    [link]      
  115. By Wendell Mercantile on October 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Problem is, these metals are in such low concentrations on the surface, that it makes refining them prohibitively expensive.

     

    Perry~

    What that means is the rare earths used in magnets, electric motors, batteries, and wind turbine generators cause those items to have high levels of embodied energy.

    Too many people ignore embodied energy in their business models and the calculus of efficiency. Include embodied energy in the calculations of GM’s Volt, and it’s not nearly as attractive.

     

    [link]      
  116. By jerry-unruh on October 3, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    To set the record straight about bird mortality see: http://www.sibleyguides.com/co…..mortality/
    Window collisions are estimated to kill 100 to 900 million birds/year. Wind turbines can hardly be read on the graph, but appears to be a few thousand

    [link]      
  117. By rrapier on October 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Kit P said:

    Like I said RR you do not have the data to to answer your question. Furthermore, RR is using the incorrect methods to find answer.


     

    I know you said it, but you are still wrong. While you are insisting I don’t have the data or the methods, we have moved on to actually answering the question.

    Let me repeat. You have to identify the individual power plant that is balancing the changes in wind load.

     

    No you don’t. That might be ideal, but if there is a lot of wind being brought online, there will be enough information to answer the question.

     

    However, my engineering judgment is that wind reduces NG usage lowering the cost for other uses like home heating.

     

    In other words, “you guess.” Not good enough for me.

     

    You do not have the data, and you do not know how to do the analysis unless you now understand the correct method.

     

    I always knew how to do it. You just don’t seem to understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat. You only know one way, and if someone doesn’t do it that way you think it’s wrong.

     

    However, I do not think building wind farms is a waste of tax dollars for the reason because like I said it reduces the cost of NG for everyone.

     

    No you didn’t. You said “in your engineering judgment.” That doesn’t fill me with confidence.

     

    Ron S is correct and RR us wrong. Demand is always fluctuating. Yes, it is predictable but so is the wind.

     

    Don’t you work for a power plant? Of course demand is always fluctuating. Generally in a small window. Perhaps you don’t understand the phrase “fairly predictable.” You are supposed to know these things. But the difference between night and day is much larger, and more predictable if you look at it over a week or a month or year. Further, you say that I am wrong, and then agree that it is predictable. “Yes, RR is wrong and I agree with him.” LOL.

     

    Finally, your post had to be edited for a personal attack. Keep that stuff in your personal life and off of this blog.

     

    RR

    [link]      
  118. By rrapier on October 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Jerry Unruh said:

    To set the record straight about bird mortality see: http://www.sibleyguides.com/co…..mortality/

    Window collisions are estimated to kill 100 to 900 million birds/year. Wind turbines can hardly be read on the graph, but appears to be a few thousand


     

    Jerry,

    As I said, the bird kills aren’t something I get wound up about because it is all about trade-offs. If wind kills birds then you have to look at what it displaced. So the analysis is more complex than just wind turbines killing birds. I did find it ironic that the industry has essentially been exempted from rules that have been used to prosecute an electric utility, for instance.

    The bigger issue for me is the question of what the wind turbines actually displace in the way of fossil fuel usage. That is a key question, but I see some data has been supplied while I slept. I need to have a look at it.

    Robert

    [link]      
  119. By Rufus on October 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Actually, the part of the Delta where I live is a very interesting area, Wendell. We not only have good Solar Resources, and Great Biomass Resources, we have Strong Wind Resources (if you look closely at a wind resource map you will see a little sliver of very strong resource running down the Eastern side of the Mississippi River for about forty or fifty miles starting at Memphis, and going South.

    Look, the South has always been very happy with that cheap Illinois/Wyoming Coal, while Germany, on the other hand, is looking at a future of being Very Dependent on Russian Nat Gas, and, I suppose, Polish Coal.

    That said, they have, supposedly, begun construction on a Solar Panel Factory over at Senatobia, and I thoroughly expect a couple, or all, of the Casinos get together and put in a small wind farm as sort of a PR/Feel Good deal.

    [link]      
  120. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Perry,

    Here’s an interesting table

    End Use Table for Rare Earth Metals in U.S.

    25% Automotive Catalytic Converters
    22% Petroleum Refining Catalysts
    20% Metallurgical Additives and Alloys
    11% Glass Polishing and Ceramics
    10% Phosphors for TV Screens and Lighting
    3% Permanent Magnets
    3% Medical Magnets and Lasers
    6% Other

    This came from an excellent article on Seeking Alpha, Lots of color pie charts, graphs, tables distribution in earths surface, periodic table of elements, where REM are found and lots of other interesting info, Also, some stock tips. If interested just Google

    Rare Earth Metals Not So Rare but Valuable

    http://seekingalpha.com/articl…..t-valuable

    [link]      
  121. By Kit P on October 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Perry wrote,

     

    “Nice find Anonymous One. I think
    Table ES1 in the PDF file is enough to disprove Bryce’s whacky
    theory. From ’07 to ’08, net generation of power was down 37,000
    megawatthours.”

     

    Assuming Perry was looking at ‘Total
    Electric Power Industry’ for Texas’ he is low by a factor of 10.

     

    The second issue with this kind of
    analysis is that the change is in the third significant figure. So
    we are trying a fraction of one percent. That is what RR calls down
    in the noise.

     

    It does appear that in Texas wind
    replaced NG but the data is not yet definitive. Not is the magnitude
    of the change worth getting carried away when predicting the future.
    We have to build a lot more wind farms to decide.

    [link]      
  122. By Rufus on October 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    The Upper Midwest is looking at 6 Transmission Lines to carry 15 Gigawatts of Wind Generated Electricity.

    http://www.newtondailynews.com…../index.xml

    [link]      
  123. By Rufus on October 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    As I said, I wouldn’t trust Bryce as far as I can throw him. I am figuring, however, that if it’s worth someone’s investment to have him writing articles/books disparaging Wind, then Wind is probably worth paying attention to.

    I’m, also, in the “wait and see” mode, but I have a suspicion that wind is a little bit better than the critics are making it out to be. Building out Transmission Lines, however, has to be the key.

    [link]      
  124. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    The figures are there Kit. In ’08, demand was down. The use of fossil fuels was down even more. The difference was made up by wind and hydro. Mostly wind. The figures don’t give credence to Bryce’s assertion that wind power increases the use of fossil fuels. In fact, they appear to displace fossil fuels pretty darned close to kwh for kwh. There’s white noise from other sources. Enough where it’s hard to say if the displacement is 100%. I didn’t expect 100% displacement anyway. 95% sounds about right though.

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/e…..pa/epa.pdf

    [link]      
  125. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Nice find Mac. Catalytic converters and petroleum refining catalysts account for 47% of rare earths. We don’t need either of those for EV’s.  Is it possible that an electric fleet will lessen our dependence on rare earths?

    [link]      
  126. By klr on October 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks for the review, Robert.  My local library has a copy so I’ll give it a read.

    [link]      
  127. By armchair261 on October 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    mac said:

    Perhaps the permitting process makes government bureaucrats feel important since their decisions hold the power of life or death for proposed projects.

     

    The article claimed that even if we did drill in Anwar the amount of oil it would provide the U.S. would only be enough to last 30 days at our present rate of consumption and would take nearly 15 years to pump out. 

    Mt experience with the government permitting process is that it is more than just an ego thing. For example, in California operators are required to case off the fresh water aquifer, i.e. to protect it behind pipe and cement. They enforce this. If there was no such regulation, most operators would do the right thing anyway. But there would be some who wouldn’t bother to protect aquifers, and it’s this minority the regulations protect us against.
     

    I am neutral on ANWR exploration, so I don’t want to get into that argument either way. Having been to ANWR myself, though, I believe the negative impact of exploration is exaggerated. People don’t appreciate how big it is, and how small a development footprint would be in comparison. Also, few in the public appreciate the degree of uncertainty in ANWR reserve estimates. You quote 30 days of production; it could be zero, it could be several years. Typical estimates put it on the order of a year or two of US domestic production.

    But I believe this popular argument that “area X contains only Y days of US production” misses the point. Prudhoe Bay was originally thought to be of a comparable size to ANWR in reserve projections, maybe somewhat larger, at 3 years of then domestic production. In the 1980′s, Prudhoe was producing about 25% of domestic reserves, and still accounts for about 11%. This rate contribution is significant. Imagine if in the 2008 price spike, we removed 11% of US production? Or if in 1988 we removed 25% of it? The most important thing to focus on is rate relative to the domestic total, not how many days it will supply.

     

    [link]      
  128. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Perry,

    When the Japanese recently seized that Chinese “fishing trawler” snooping off their coast , China slapped a ban on rare earth sales to Japan. But, Toyota had already stockpiled enough REM to continue to build hybrids for another 2 years. The Chinese just lifted the ban, The U.S has 13% of known world REM reserves. Bryce likes to “massage” reality to conform to his agenda.

    [link]      
  129. By Duracomm on October 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    mac said,

    The U.S has 13% of known world REM reserves.

    According to the Energy information Administration US oil production ranks third behind saudi arabia and russia. They estimate US and Canada proven reserves to be 200 billion barrels, which is 76 % of saudi arabias proved reserves of 262 billion barrels. Additional oil reserves are widely distributed around the world.

    Country Energy Profiles, Prove Reserves

    In the face of this data lots of people on this thread have complained that the US is too dependent on foreign oil.

    Yet they ignore renewable energy’s requirements for natural resources (rare earths) that the US has far less of that and are more tightly controlled by fewer countries.

    That does not seem to show much common sense or consistency.

    China Is Said to Halt Trade in Rare-Earth Minerals With Japan

    China mines 93 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals and more than 99 percent of the world’s supply of some of the most prized rare earths, which sell for several hundred dollars a pound.

    [link]      
  130. By Duracomm on October 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Rufus said,

    We’re getting quite a bit of wind, solar, and biofuels up and running around the world, now. So, we’re getting to the stage where we can start getting some “analyzeable” data.

    The results are starting to come in. The analyzable data shows that given enough government supply of other peoples money projects that make absolutely no sense will get built.

    This leads to the creation of an artificial bubble that blows up when the governments fiscal situation collapses.

    The problem is governments always run out of other peoples money to spend (TM Margaret Thatcher)

    Conclusion: Don’t be stupid and replicate Spain’s and Germany’s failed renewable energy policies in the US.

    Spain’s Ambitious Solar Program Facing Budget Cuts

    Spain has long been celebrated as a leader in solar power generation.

    This success can largely be attributed to a 2007 law that offers 25 years of above-market price guarantees to solar developers. Now that Spain is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the government may abolish that law–potentially bringing down the country’s solar industry along with it.

    The damper on renewable energy isn’t limited to Spain. The National Post reports that Germany is also cutting back on renewable energy subsidies, while Italy is getting rid of guaranteed pricing for owners of “green certificates” that are given out to clean energy producers–

    a move that could prevent solar and wind companies from paying back some $6 to $8 billion in loans.

    [link]      
  131. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

     

    Durracom said:

     

    Yet they ignore renewable energy’s requirements for natural resources
    (rare earths) that the US has far less of that and are more tightly
    controlled by fewer countries.

     

    End Use Table for Rare Earth Metals in U.S.

    25% Automotive Catalytic Converters

    22% Petroleum Refining Catalysts

    20% Metallurgical Additives and Alloys

    11% Glass Polishing and Ceramics

    10% Phosphors for TV Screens and Lighting

    3% Permanent Magnets

    3% Medical Magnets and Lasers

    6% Other

     

    As you can see from this table, 25% of the end use for Rare Earths in the U.S is catalytic converters for internal combustion engined vehicles.

    22% of rare earths are used as petroleum refining catalysts.

    Another 20% of rare earths are used as metallurgical additives and alloys

     

    I don’t see any mention of windmills in the list so far, do you ?

     

    11%    Glass Polishing and Ceramics

    10%    Phosphors for TV Screens and Lighting

     

    This makes a total of 88% of rare earth consumption and no mention yet of electric motors or windmill generators

     

    Regular internal combustion engined vehicles also use rare earths in their construction namely catalytic converters, altternators and starters.

    Rare earths are also used in electrical generators of all kinds, not just the generators in windmills.

     

    The Tesla Roadster (electric car) uses lithium batteries - no rare earth materials used in their construction.  The electric motor used in the Tersla electric car is an AC induction motor – no rare earth materials involved in their construction

     

    Fully 25% of U.S. consumption of rare rearth materials are for caralytic convertors for the  internal combustion engine !!!!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    [link]      
  132. By mac on October 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Duracomm

     

     

    25% Automotive Catalytic Converters

    22% Petroleum Refining Catalysts

     

    47% of all U.S demand for rare earth materials is for the refining industry and the internal combustion engine , not renewables.

    [link]      
  133. By Perry on October 3, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Duracomm said:

    Yet they ignore renewable energy’s requirements for natural resources (rare earths) that the US has far less of that and are more tightly controlled by fewer countries.

     


     

    ICE’s require a lot more rare earths than EV’s Duracomm. The typical car on a dealer lot contains 12 lbs. of lanthanides. A Tesla doesn’t contain any at all. We can make EV’s that don’t use rare earths. We can’t say the same about ICE’s.

    The US geological survey puts US reserves of rare earths at 99 million tons. World use is 124,000 tons annually. The US could supply world needs for 1000 years at today’s rate of consumption. We’re not going to do it while China is giving the stuff away though.

    [link]      
  134. By Kit P on October 3, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Ron S provided a
    curve for CCGT. The source of the curve is:

     

    http://www.succeed.ufl.edu/con…../material/

     

    Figure 3-2 shows
    that CCGT efficiency curve is nearly flat above 30% rated power.

     

    However,

     

    “designed to
    characterize mainly off-the-shelf technologies up to 1973”

     

    So I do not see any
    reasons to think that wind and NG to be a good mix. Equipment has
    improved in 35 years but theory is still the same.

     

    The same applies to
    coal powered steam plants.

    [link]      
  135. By Wendell Mercantile on October 3, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I don’t see any mention of windmills in the list so far, do you ?

    mac~

    The rare earths are used in the metal alloys in the turbines and gearboxes, and the permanent magnets in the generator sets.

    [link]      
  136. By Duracomm on October 3, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Mac,

    A car will run just fine without a rare earth containing catalytic converter.Electric cars and wind turbines need the high strength rare earth containing magnets to function.

    The argument I’ve seen on this thread has been:

    Petroleum, bigger domestic supply, more supplying countries than rare earths = problem
    Rare earths smaller domestic supply, fewer supplying countries = no problem

    Which makes no sense at all. And that is even before we start looking at the global supply issues surrounding lithium.

    Hybrid Car Future Hinges on Bolivia’s Lithium

    The next generation of hybrid and electric cars depends on lithium ion batteries—but the world’s biggest supply of lithium is controlled by a socialist country with no great love for the United States.

    Bolivia hopes to use its suddenly vital natural resource to join its closest ally Venezuela, as a major player on the geo-political scene.

    But wait, it gets much, much better

    The Saudi Arabia of Lithium

    Morales would like to maintain government ownership of the lithium mines and be able to influence lithium prices in the same way that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Saudi royal family influence the oil market.

    Mister frying pan (venezuela and opec) please pick up on line one
    Mister fire (bolivia and lithpac) would like a word with you.

    [link]      
  137. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Look, just deal with this, before changing the subject to Lithium,

    Nearly 50% of our consumption of rare earth materials is directly related to the demands of oil refining and the internal combustion engine,

    [link]      
  138. By Perry on October 4, 2010 at 12:41 am

    You’ve been Bryce’d or something Duracomm. There might be a prescription med for that. So what if North America has oil reserves rivalling that of Saudi Arabia? We need production 2 1/2 times that just to meet US demand. When is the last time North America met its own oil demand? When will it ever happen again?

     

    Lithium is no more rare than the “rare earths”. The US once led in the production of both. Low cost production from Chile shut down our lithium mining. Low cost production from China shut down our rare earth mining. That doesn’t mean we don’t have the reserves. It just means other countries can mine it cheaper. Besides, lithium and lanthanides can be recycled. Repeatedly. Oil can only be used once.

     

     

    [link]      
  139. By Perry on October 4, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I can’t link this article from EV World. Here’s the gist of it though.

     

    “As to the issue of American lithium resources, Evans pointed out that a single geothermal well in southern California can produce enough lithium to meet all of the world’s current demand for lithium. There are also lithium-bearing clays called Hectorite and oilfield brines that contain commercially-viable concentrations of lithium, though they would be more expensive to produce compared to the high desert brines in the Andes and Tibet.

    How much lithium is there in the world in Evan’s professional analysis? He estimates it at 28.4 million tonnes of lithium, which is equivalent to 150 million tonnes of lithium carbonate. Current world demand is 16,000 tonnes.

    His conclusion is that “concerns regarding lithium availability for hybrid or electric vehicle batteries or other foreseeable applications are unfounded.”

     

    That’s almost 2000 years worth of lithium btw. Compare that with oil set to reach exhaustion in 37 years.

     

     

    [link]      
  140. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Perry,

    Chemetall, a German company already converting geothermal brine into Lithium carbonate in Nevada. Also, Simbol Mines licensed by Lawrence Livermore Labs

    Mexicans in Baja California at world’s second largest geothermal plant. Brine to lithium,

    http://www.chemetall.com/

    Hit the lithium button

    [link]      
  141. By Duracomm on October 4, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Perry, losing the argument and left with insults says

    You’ve been Bryce’d or something Duracomm. There might be a prescription med for that.

    So what if North America has oil reserves rivalling that of Saudi Arabia? We need production 2 1/2 times that just to meet US demand. When is the last time North America met its own oil demand? When will it ever happen again?

    The articles I have linked indicate we are in a similar situation for lithium and rare earths.

    Supply could get better, could get worse. But arguing that it is not an issue while pointing to petroleum supply and imports is not credible.

    Your source said,

    Evans pointed out that a single geothermal well in southern California can produce enough lithium to meet all of the world’s current demand for lithium.

    If that is true why is everyone so busy trying to get concessions to produce the the lithium from Bolivia??

    One little details in that quote you are sliding right by world’s current demand for lithium. Which looks like they are not accounting for the increased demand for lithium as battery usage increases.

    Imports are imports and mineral resources are mineral resources.

    If a technology meant to replace petroleum relies on limited supplies of mineral resources produced by potentially adversarial countries you have to account for that issue, you don’t get to hand wave it away.

    [link]      
  142. By Perry on October 4, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Duracomm said:

    Perry, losing the argument and left with insults says


     My apologies for the insult. It was a bad attempt at levity on my part. But, there’s no argument to be won Duracomm. Oil supplies are finite. That’s a fact you and Bryce can’t seem to get into your heads. If you find yourself heading into a brick wall at 90 MPH, the last thing you want to do is “more of the same”. You can hit the brakes, turn the wheel, or even just turn the key off.

    But, closing your eyes and pretending the wall won’t hurt you isn’t such a good idea.

    [link]      
  143. By Brent on October 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

    mac said:

    Look, just deal with this, before changing the subject to Lithium,

    Nearly 50% of our consumption of rare earth materials is directly related to the demands of oil refining and the internal combustion engine,


     

    This is directly related to the scale of consumption, obviously.  It is not surprising that the majority of rare earth metals would be used in automobiles when there are more automobiles in the USA than there are drivers and wind turbines / solar panels provide a fraction of a percent of electricity and there are probably <0.01% hybrids / electric vehicles in use.  Also, the hybrids and electric vehicles are TOYS, they are not replacement vehicles but rather, an owner’s 2nd or even 3rd car.  Also, the demand for these metals is 100% dependent upon the government mandate of having a catalytic convertor.  As an example of how this makes little sense, hybrid vehicles and natural gas vehicles that are inherently cleaner, still require the same catalytic convertors despite the fact that they may not even produce NOx emissions at a level that requires this hardware.  

     

    Perhaps having catalytic convertors is a social good to prevent the tragedy of the commons, but to suggest that these same components won’t be used in hybrids / electric vehicles is ludicrous.  Statistics for the wind/solar/hybrid/electric vehicles are going to be completely bogus and need to be tracked on a per vehicle basis.  There’s a reason that a Nissan leaf costs 40k and theres only 10,000 of them.  Tesla roadster costs 100k and tehres probably no more than 1,000.  You’re paying for all the exotic crap it takes to make these jokes.

    [link]      
  144. By Duracomm on October 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Perry said,

    But, there’s no argument to be won Duracomm. Oil supplies are finite. That’s a fact you and Bryce can’t seem to get into your heads.

    Oil is finite. So are the minerals that are required for electric cars and renewable energy technology.

    I acknowledge supplies of both resources are finite. Electric car and renewable energy supporters on this thread have tended toward ignoring the fact that the minerals resources that technology requires are also finite.

    But, closing your eyes and pretending the wall won’t hurt you isn’t such a good idea.

    True, which is why it is important to not enact government policies that just switch us toward collision with another wall potentially at a higher speed.

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  145. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Duracomm said,

    Oil is finite. So are the minerals that are required for electric cars and renewable energy technology.

    That;s absolutely true.

    The problem is that finite materials are also used in many of the technology marvels we enjoy today that were unheard of just 100 years ago. The computers we are using to chat back and forth with on Robert’s blog use rare earth metals in the the little neodymium magnets in the hard-drive. Many of the large electric motors that power our factories, that make all the things we love so much, also have rare earths in them.
    .
    If you like gasoline powered vehicles, that’s fine. Just remember that rare earths are also used in their construction and to refine the gasoline they use..

    If you want to have some inexpensive fun, just take apart an old, broken hard drive and play around with the little magnets inside them. They are very powerful and lots of fun to play with.

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  146. By Wendell Mercantile on October 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    The problem is that finite materials are also used in many of the technology marvels we enjoy today that were unheard of just 100 years ago.

    The same concept used in “Peak Oil” applies to virtually everything we use in modern society today. There are some exceptions: For example, it will be several billion years until solar power peaks. And presumably a four-masted schooner would be just as useful 500 years from now as it was in the 17th century. (Although the English and Spanish did experience “Peak Wood” in the process of building their naval fleets — it took about 60 acres of English oak trees to build a wooden ship-of-the-line, and both the English and Spanish nearly denuded their countries building warships.)

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  147. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    (Although the English and Spanish did experience “Peak Wood” in the process of building their naval fleets — it took about 60 acres of English oak trees to build a wooden ship-of-the-line, and both the English and Spanish nearly denuded their countries building warships.)

    Yes, I heard the English colonists in America had to cut down a certain amount of trees to take back on the English supply ships. The supply ship would come, unload the suppliesm then load up with lumber and head back to England.

    Peak Wood, indeed !!!

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  148. By Perry on October 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    The same concept used in “Peak Oil” applies to virtually everything we use in modern society today.


     

    Not true Wendell. Oil production will peak, then decline until the last drop is gone. The production of lanthanides used in the Prius battery may well peak someday. But, the batteries can be recycled again and again. There’s enough lithium in salt flats in places like Bolivia and Chile to build 15 billion EV’s. That’s just the low hanging fruit. Harder to refine lithium deposits are even more abundant. Those 15 billion cars could roam the roads as long as electricity could be produced for them. On the other hand, the 1 billion ICE’s on roads today are useless without oil.

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  149. By Wendell Mercantile on October 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Yes, I heard the English colonists in America had to cut down a certain amount of trees to take back on the English supply ships.

    mac~

    The seemingly inexhaustible supply of wood they found in the New World is one reason the European powers were so eager to start colonies here. Certainly there were other reasons (gold, tobacco, and sugar were others), but wood was right at the top.

    Perry~

    You are correct, with good practices, we can recycle lithium. As with aluminum, lithium is expensive to extract from the earth and has a high level of “embodied energy.” Because of its embodied energy, we do successfully recycle aluminum, and we can do the same with lithium.

    But the “peak concept” still applies to much of modern life. One of the biggest “peak” impacts will be fresh water. We already recycle water, but still, there won’t be enough fresh water for the world’s soon-to-be nine billion people, unless we find an affordable energy source to provide huge quantities of usable water from the oceans and seas.

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  150. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Perry,

    Ever consider this ? Geothermal lithium might become a kind of new oil. Just drill a hole in the ground, bring up the mineral rich brine, refine it and we’re off to the races. Some people have suggested that we may do our mining of the future this way. This may all seem like science fiction, but there is already a German company in Nevada that is apparently recovering lithium carbonate in just this way.

    Most of the geothermal brine R&D work so far seems to center around lithium recovery but it’s possible we might recover other valuable mineral salts that can be refined besides lithium carbonate. Lawrence Livermore Labs has licensed a process to Simbol mines at Salton Sea, CA. that, from what I can piece together uses a different process than Chemetall does in Nevada. The Livermore labs process apparently eliminates the lengthy solar pond drying time. Simbol is building a pilot plant at Salton Sea.

    By the way, Chemetall says we’ve got lots of lithium at just the one deposit in Chile at Salar Atacama.

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  151. By paul-n on October 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Yes, I heard the English colonists in America had to cut down a certain amount of trees to take back on the English supply ships. The supply ship would unload the suppliesm then load up with lumber and head back to England.

    This is still happening today, only now on the west coast.  Cargo ships come here from China, deposit their goods, and leave loaded up with – lumber!

    China is the fastest growing market for BC lumber.  I should actually say logs, as they take the raw logs and mill them back there.  Transfers sawmill jobs from here to there!

    And then we buy it back as Ikea furniture!

     

    Wendell, a cheap source of energy to desalinate water is NOT what we need.  That will encourage continued wastage and overconsumption, which also require more and larger sewage treatment plants etc.

    Cheap water is like cheap oil – people waste it.  Desalinating just feeds that beast. Places that do desalination do so because they have no other choice – it is the water equivalent of manufacturing fuel by hydrogen electrolysis – the most energy intensive way, but with free and unlimited feedstock.

     

    Water efficiency is what I do for a living – there is so much scope on this continent for making better use of the fresh water we have that it is not funny.  Using electricity for desalinating water so that people can continue to have golf green front lawns is worse than using natural gas to make ethanol so that people can keep driving SUV’s.  Both situations are continuations of excessive, unproductive consumption, and are a very poor use of scarce resources.  And in both situations, the true costs are, of course, hidden from the end user and subsidised by everyone else.

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  152. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Perry,

    Thanks Australia link. 47% of world’s known rare earth reserves in Australia. I’m glad they speak English there.

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  153. By Perry on October 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I’m afraid they’ll face the same problem as American companies Mac. China doesn’t want competition in that area. They flooded the market in the early 90′s and forced out competition. It would be a good thing if China couldn’t export rare earths any longer. A number of countries could start production and diversify supply. The rare earth mining industry is tiny in comparison to other metals. A little more than a billion annually. Not exactly an attention grabber for mining companies. That’s starting to change though.

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  154. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Paul said,

    This is still happening today, only now on the west coast. Cargo ships come here from China, deposit their goods, and leave loaded up with – lumber!

    China is the fastest growing market for BC lumber. I should actually say logs, as they take the raw logs and mill them back there. Transfers sawmill jobs from here to there!

    And then we buy it back as Ikea furniture!

    Thanks for noting my mistake. I meant to say logs, not lumber,
    The early American colonists had to de-bark the logs which was a lot of work since they had to do it with axes and draw knives. The logs or “staves” were then loaded up for England,

    Yes, the IKEA syndrome….

    I remember when I was a just a kid I heard rumors that the Japanese were actually taking Pacific Northwest export logs just off-shore to large floating lumber mills where they would mill them into lumber and/or products, then “export” them right back to the U.S. from just off-shore. I lived in Seattle at the time.

    I’ve often wondered if this was actually true, Couldn’t find any thing on the internet about it.

    .

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  155. By Wendell Mercantile on October 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Cheap water is like cheap oil – people waste it. Desalinating just feeds that beast.

    Paul~

    Agree with all you say, although I suspect with nine billion people in the world, even with the most enlightened water use practices, there won’t be enough fresh water w/o desalinization in some parts of the world.

    Some of the worse culprits* of wasting water, as you noted, are in the west and southwest of our country. Many governors in that part of the country are eye-balling fresh-water pipelines from the Great Lakes to meet their coming crisis.

    The governors of the U.S. states and premiers of the Canadian provinces surrounding the Great Lakes not long ago got together and signed a compact to prevent that. It will be interesting to see how that compact holds up when the crunch comes. (Might there someday be Federal troops marching on the Great Lakes states to get water for Arizona and California?)

    _____________
    * Just look at all the green lawns, green golf courses, and swimming pools in New Mexico, Arizona, and S. California. I like your comparison of the folly of using electricity to distill water to that of using natural gas to distill ethanol.

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  156. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    The Energy Question ?

    It’s like a complex polynomial equation. Every one is free to contribute their opinion, their definition of the problem, their (factors)

    But just as the professor warned, multiplying any single factor in the equation exponentially causes the equation’s solution to become exponentially more difficult and complex to solve,

    Especially when, as the professor tearfully noted

    “My students completely left out the most crucial (factor) of all — exponential population growth.”

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  157. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    No matter how brilliant your analysis may be or careful your calculations, someone will soon come along to spoil them,

    And that someone will simply be the next person born on planet earth.over and over and over again.

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  158. By Kit P on October 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Did the biology of
    humans change MAC? I betting that it still takes 9 months for a
    woman to have a baby. We can build power plants faster than demand
    grows from population growth.

     

    “exponential
    population growth”

     

    Exponential growth
    of anything only occurs for a short time. Provide more food to a
    biological population and they will initially at a rate limited by
    how fast they multiple. We now have abundant food and medical care
    that allows populations to grow.  That is a good thing!

     

    At some point, the
    rate of die off matches the rate of birth. If something happens to
    limit the food, growth will slow. We may even have starvation. It
    is not a tragedy, it is just biology.

     

    China is an example
    of society in transition. Their energy infrastructure was neglected
    for 50 years. In the US, France, and Japan; we need to plan for
    slow growth and replacement of older power plants.

     

    So MAC I suspect
    that tearful professor did not know how to solve differential
    equations or make electricity. What was is doctorate in, boo hoo?

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  159. By paul-n on October 4, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Wendell,

     

    That Great Lakes stuff is just a fluffy little scheme that has nope of happening, and won’t be enough to make a difference to anything if it did.

    If you are going to go to the trouble of diverting rivers amd lakes, than you need to go big or go home.

    And they don;t get much bigger than the NAWAPA scheme, which is to take the water from Alaska, Yukon, BC and northern Alberta, and send it into the US, to the west, the midwest, and the Great Lakes.  Devised by the US Amry Corps of Engineers in the 50′s they thought it was great, they just forgot to ask Canada about it, that’s all…

    http://www.schillerinstitute.o…..tml#nawapa

    Great 1960′s style video espousing  the benefits of this shceme here;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?g…..RRUJyt7AIo

    YOu know it’s big stuff when they talk about 80′ diameter tunnels – that makes the 48″ Alaskan oil pipeline look like a short garden hose!

    But no surprise that someone came up with this idea – Canada is, after all, the “Saudi Arabia” of fresh water, with 20% of the world’s reserves.  As we know, having 20% of the worlds supply of any commodity that the US needs, puts a country in a precarious position, if you withold supply…

    If this was China it would have been built by know, and China is actually doing it’s own version of this, as we speak.  They are tunneling under the Yellow river as we speak…

    http://petekelsey.typepad.com/…..ver_d.html

     

    As for the nine billion people, it’s just like oil – there is enough, if they don’t want to live like we do.  If they do want to live like we do, then there will have to be a lot less of them – it’s as simple as that.  How they decide who goes and who stays is a different question, but we have already seen how Rwanda, the world’s most over populated country, handled that one.

     

     

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  160. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    One of the first things the Chinese did when the communists took over was institute the tbe child per family rule,

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  161. By mac on October 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    The EU says we are going to run out of gas in 2058, Let;s add another Billion people, so we can run out of gas quicker,

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  162. By Kit P on October 5, 2010 at 8:15 am

    “but we have
    already seen how Rwanda, the world’s most over populated country,
    handled that one.”

     

    Notice how doomers
    always pick the most irrelevant and insignificant example. And of
    course they are wrong about that too.

     

    The population
    density of Rwanda is less than the Netherlands, New Jersey, and Rhohe
    Island places that I have been where there did not seem to be a
    problem with too many people living together. Much lower population
    density then South Korea, and Taiwan where the seem to get along just
    fine. None of these places have any energy resources to speak of.

     

    “The EU says we
    are going to run out of gas in 2058, Let;s add another Billion
    people, so we can run out of gas quicker, ..”

     

    Oh no MAC what are
    ‘they’ going to do? I say ‘they’ MAC because I will be dead. I will
    not die from exposure to the elements because of a shortage of
    electricity. We have figured out how to prevent that from happening.
    It is not rocket science either.

     

    Now MAC go caulk
    your windows and pretend you are saving the world.

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  163. By mac on October 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Perry,

    You still out there ? You may have already seen this on AutoBlog Green”

    “Ex-Top Gear driver Ben Collins (aka the ex-Stig), is one of a rare breed of car aficionados who possess the ability to captivate millions with his intriguing automotive reviews. So, when The Sun asked Collins to drive the battery-powered Leaf, you can bet that execs at automaker Nissan crossed their fingers and hoped for the best. If Collins walked away impressed, millions would be aware. If, on the other hand, Collins ripped apart the Leaf, well, that would make headlines as well. Lucky for Nissan, Collins’ glowing review of the Leaf will shine positive light on the company’s breakthrough electric vehicle”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..Q0x8onTErk

    Collins closed out the review with this remark”
    :
    Electric-powered vehicles were pioneered more than 100 years ago, so it’s remarkable that the powers shaping human history have managed to conceal their advantages for so long. The secret is finally out and the dawn of a new driving era is arriving.

    There are numerous test drives and reviews on YouTube.
    Here’s a couple more.

    Car Tech 2011 Nissan Leaf review
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..gRweVUk8e0

    Nissan leaf test drive Phoenix

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

    Nissan LEAF – Test Drive: Oppama, Japan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

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  164. By mac on October 5, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Perry,

    You may already know all this, but the Leaf was 14 years in development, a car built from the ground up to be an electric car. The car’s remote can turn on the vehicles heat and window defroster in wintertime and can pre-cool the car with AC in the summertime, In ICE vehicles the AC is usually parasitically operated by a pump that requires the engine to be running, Leaf also has solar panels that will trickle charge the battery.

    The Leaf power steering is operated by an electric motor. Many ICE vehicles have also been converting to electric power steering because hydraulic power steering robs horsepower and engine performance and decreases gas mileage.

    For years and years auto manufactures have also been toying with the idea of a 48 Volt battery system for the ICE because of the ever increasing needs of electrical and electronic systems in ICE vehicles. The normal 12 volt battery also complicates the wiring harness,

    The 480 volt DC charge feature of the Leaf will allow for the car to be charged in about 1/2 hour.

    Leaf also has solar panels that will trickle charge the battery.

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  165. By Wendell Mercantile on October 6, 2010 at 12:09 am

    The 480 volt DC charge feature of the Leaf will allow for the car to be charged in about 1/2 hour.

    mac~

    Sounds great. Now if I could just find that darn 480 v DC outlet in my garage..

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  166. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Kit wrote;

    The population

    density of Rwanda is less than the Netherlands, New Jersey, and Rhohe

    Island places that I have been where there did not seem to be a

    problem with too many people living together. Much lower population

    density then South Korea, and Taiwan where the seem to get along just

    fine. None of these places have any energy resources to speak of.

    Now Kit, you are confusing “population density” (which I was not talking about) with “overpopulation” (which I was talking about)

    Let me explain the difference.  

    Population density is simply a measure of the number of people (or organisms) per unit area (or volume)

    Overpopulation is when there are too many people (organisms) within an area, for the population to be sustained, in good condition.  Unless the over population is relived, somehow,  a die off of some kind is imminent.

    From the American Heritage Dictionary;

    The population of an environment by a particular species in excess of the environment’s carrying capacity. The effects of overpopulation can include the depletion of resources, environmental deterioration, and the prevalence of famine and disease.

    Note that this makes no mention of population density.  One can have very high population density, but if everyone is living reasonably well, then it is not overpopulated.  Conversely, a desert island can have a low population density, but if it has more people than food or water to supply them, then it is overpopulated.

    The examples you give are all well governed places, and people have a reasonable standard of living, health, etc.  They may not be food self sufficient, but their economy is, so they produce other goods/services and trade for food.  To be overpopulated there has to be too many people. Some people may call those places crowded, but they are sustaining their populations, they are not, by definition “overpopulated”

    Rwanda, on the other hand, has been a basket case for decades.  Its population has been growing rapidly, it is unable to feed itself, and has no real economy to speak of, so it cannot buy enough food.  It has been the recipient of UN food aid for decades – quote simply – it cannot sustain itself – that is “overpopulation”

    You could argue that it is “under-organised”, in that better framing methods, better government etc etc might make it self sustaining, and that is true.   One way to relieve overpopulation is to change things to make it livable for more people, and that has happened to some extent since (through better government etc, though it still remains a food charity nation).  

    RWandan Population (from UN Food Program)

     

     

    A not so well known fact is that when the genocide happened, there were also many cases of “neighbour killings”, so that one person could take over their neighbours plot of land, as it many had reached the point where they could not sustain their family on their tiny land plots.  This sort of action is also consistent with overpopulation.  

    As you point out, none of this has anything to do with energy resources, directly.  The people in Rwanda hardly use any energy – they cannot afford to buy it nor the equipment to use it.

    Economic depression is the main reason why most of the world’s population does not use much energy – of they could afford to, they probably would, and that is being seen with China and India.

    Once people have a taste of the high energy lifestyle, it is very hard to get them to reduce/give it up.   Some would even say that it is “not negotiable” – that would qualify as power hungry.

     

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  167. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Mac,

    I am am very interested to discuss the finer points of the Leaf, but that is not what this thread was about – why don’t you start a new thread for this in the Open Forum section, and we can discuss the many benefits, and even more drawbacks, of the Leaf to our heart’s desire.

     

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  168. By Perry on October 6, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Paul N said:

     but that is not what this thread was about -  


     

    Samuel got on me for posting an off topic link in the new thread, and now you’ve done the same thing here. I don’t know about Mac, but I didn’t even know about the Open Forum previously, and I’ve been posting here for months. Why does it matter if two guys want to banter back and forth on an old comment thread anyway? Robert said something about getting an e-mail when a comment is made. Are we flooding e-mail boxes when we post under an old thread?

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  169. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Hi Perry,

     

    No, you are not flooding email boxes, but the two threads in question, this one and the oil and terrorism one, are the two most recent articles by RR – they are hardly “old” threads, so let’s try to keep them on the topic.

    There is much more to CER than just RR’s blog.  The best way is to view through the Forums, and there are numerous different subject categories, and the open forum, and you can start your own thread, at any time, on any subject.  Register your user name and then there are more features, it really is a much better way to use this site.

    As I said, I am up for discussion on EV’s and ethanol, but it get’s a bit annoying when the threads so often shift to those topics.  On some blogs, there are people whose only purpose is to shift discussion in such directions.   You have satisfied me that you are not one of them, but still, let’s not shift the topic here- start a new one, and let the discussion begin – I’m sure we’ll have plenty to say!

     

     

     

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  170. By perry on October 6, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Paul N said:

    As I said, I am up for discussion on EV’s and ethanol, but it get’s a bit annoying when the threads so often shift to those topics.   

     

     


     

    What else is there to talk about Paul? Robert’s posts deal primarily with oil, or the coming lack thereof. There are only 3 ways to prepare for peak oil. Conservation, alternative fuels, and/or alternative vehicles. Like it or not, ethanol is the only alternative fuel marketed in quantity. EV’s are the only alternative vehicles coming to market in quantity. I guess we could talk about a hydrogen economy or similar not-gonna-happen scenarios. That would get old pretty quick though. I don’t see how you can have a discussion on energy and/or the environment without always coming back to ethanol and EV’s. Annoying or not, that’s our game plan at this point.

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  171. By mac on October 6, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Paul said:

    I am am very interested to discuss the finer points of the Leaf, but that is not what this thread was about

    Paul,

    Quoting directly from Robert’s post:

    On Electric Cars

    “Bryce spends quite a bit of time discussing the notion that fully electric cars (as opposed to hybrids) will soon penetrate the mass market. Bryce argues that the hype around electric cars has existed for over 100 years, but that the fundamental issue of low energy density of the batteries (ethanol has 50x the energy density of lithium-ion batteries) remains. He has a graphic of the energy densities of a number of energy sources, and the contrast is sharp. He quotes one of the lead designers of the Toyota Prius saying that to produce a car that’s truly intended for the mass market will require a battery chemistry that does not yet exist.’

    Sounds to me like electric cars are an open topic for discussion

    As you know, the subject matter on Robert’s posts tends to end up all over the map. The reason is that most energy issues are inter-related.and almost always have political, social and economic ramifications So, the “energy” discussion often leaves a purely technical discussion and roams into politics, economics and so forth and often degenerates into name calling and accusations that someone is a lobbyist, etc.

    Please allow me to paraphrase Bryce:who said ““There is no more complex or fascinating topic than energy.” — Robert Bryce

    Bryce could just as easily have said ““There is no more complex, fascinating or strongly debated topic than energy.”

    Both statements are no doubt true.
    —————————————————————————————–

    Here;s something directly from Robert’s post.again,

    “Bryce spends quite a bit of time discussing the notion that fully electric cars (as opposed to hybrids) will soon penetrate the mass market. Bryce argues that the hype around electric cars has existed for over 100 years, but that the fundamental issue of low energy density of the batteries (ethanol has 50x the energy density of lithium-ion batteries) remains”

    In answer to that, most electric car proponents would probably say that while battery density is important it is not paramount, since the vast majority of Americans drive less than 100 miles every day, well within the battery range of the Leaf.

    Contrary to Bryce (and the Toyota executive he quotes), the car could very well have broad appeal since it adequately serves the driving needs of most Americans.

    Bryce’s “concerns” about battery energy density might be mis-placed. Other issues like charge time and the exorbitant cost of batteries are more debatable.. Bryce should have included battery cost as one of his main “talking points”.

    As an electric car fan I’ve heard all.the many knocks on EVs. Even as well read as you appear to be, I doubt you could add much along that line. Besides, it’s just a hobby with me. I don’t work for Nissan or anything like that, and am not a lobbyist for them if that was your worry in saying that a discussion of the finer points of the Leaf might not be in order…

    I’m not trying to cram electric cars down anyone’s throat, If you want to drive an electric car you can go buy a Leaf (at a whopping price). If you want to drive a comparable gas car for a lot less money, that’s fine too.

    Once again, it sounds to me like this post was open for a discussion about electric vehicles since Bryce mentioned them in his book and they are indeed included in Robert’s post. ..

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  172. By perry on October 6, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I did some calculations on how much fuel EV’s will actually save us Mac. Assuming these cars appeal to the most fuel conscious buyers, or those who would otherwise have bought a Prius, a Leaf would save maybe 300 gallons of gas per year. A million of them would save 20,000 bpd of crude oil. It would take 50 million Leafs to save a million bpd. Half that many if they’re displacing cars that get 25 MPG, instead of 50. We’re in big trouble. We’ll be lucky to see 3 million EV’s on roads before peak oil smacks us upside our heads.

     

    We’ve got to get CAFE standards up sharply, and quickly. And we ABSOLUTELY have to do away with exemptions on trucks, vans, and SUV’s. It will take decades to go electric, even if the imperitive is there. We don’t have that kind of time.

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  173. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 4:45 am

    Perry wrote;

    There are only 3 ways to prepare for peak oil. Conservation, alternative fuels, and/or alternative vehicles.

    I think that is a pretty good summary of the situation.  Conservation has many aspects, and I don;t think it is really being pursued, as it implies “doing without”, although that is not always a bad thing.

    Alternative fuels, yep, ethanol is the only game at the moment, more by government choice than anything else.  And with oil prices the way they are, no alternative fuel can compete without substantial subsidy.

    And alternative vehicles partly suffer from the oil price problem, but I actually think the bigger problem is that there isn’t really scope for “alternative vehicles”, what we are seeing is “alternative fuelled normal vehicles”, like the Leaf.

    And that is where I see a major problem – as long as electrics need to be like normal cars, or are perceived as needing to be, they are at a huge disadvantage.  An electric SUV is pointless as it needs such a huge amount of battery storage that it becomes so expensive very few can buy it.  When the real point is, to get away from the SUV – the small efficient car, whether electric or not, is what is needed.

     

    @ Mac,

     

    I stand corrected – though I still think the subject of the Leaf is worth its own thread.

    And thoroughly agree with the “strongly debated” paraphrasing.  I think, of course, that fact that energy IS storngly debated is a good thing – I wish we could have equally strong action!  Un fortunately, we don’t seem to get that from our governments, and the ability for individuals to make any difference seems limited to what we do and don;t buy from big corporations!

    We’ll have to see about the appeal for the Leaf.  No question there is some “pent up demand” to be satisfied, and beyond that the Leaf will have to earn its sales – I will be interested to see how it does once all the “PR” sales have happened.

     

     

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  174. By perry on October 6, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Paul, we can go full tilt at the conservation route, and it still won’t get us where we need to be in time for peak oil. If new car fleet averages could miraculously be raised to 100 MPG, and all 10 million new vehicles sold each year averaged that, we would save 400,000 bpd per year. It would take 20 years to cut imports by 2/3′s, or 8M bpd. That wouldn’t be enough, even if we did have 20 years. The math on EV’s isn’t much better.

     

    That leaves biofuels to take up the slack, I’m afraid. We should be going full tilt at conservation, AV’s (alternative vehicles), AND biofuels. Even if we moved with urgency on all three fronts starting today, we’re in for a world of hurt. But, it wouldn’t hurt nearly as bad. I’d take a sprained ankle over a broken back any day.

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  175. By mac on October 6, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Wendell said,

    The 480 volt DC charge feature of the Leaf will allow for the car to be charged in about 1/2 hour.
    mac~
    Sounds great. Now if I could just find that darn 480 v DC outlet in my garage..
    ———————————————————————————————————–
    Wendell,

    Some businesses, manufacturing plants, etc. have 480 Vac. In Europe 220 Vac is standard household voltage.

    Nissan is basically using this high voltage-quick charge feature as a “sales pitch”, hoping that 480 V charging stations will be installed in the near future, not an unreasonable assumption, really..

    Corporations, businesses or government offices could easily install 480V charging stations for their employees and charge workers a fee for the electricity..

    Your car is charged up while you slave away for the company. You forgot to plug in your car last night and drove to work running on electrical “fumes” ? Just plug in your car at work and it’s charged and ready to go for you at lunch-time.

    Run out of “electrical gas” on the way home ? Some guy already has a business plan cooked up where he will take out an emergency truck and quick-charge your battery curbside. (for a nice fee no doubt) Big battery truck perhaps.

    Sounds entirely do-able to me.

    Better Place has an alternative solution where they have battery swap stations where you pull into a bay, the car is raised on a hydraulic lift, the battery changed out, then the lift is lowered and off you drive (after you pay your bill of course) This only takes a matter of a few minutes and has been demonstrated to work.

    There probably aren’t going to be huge numbers of BEVs right away anyway, so there won’t be a huge, sudden strain on the electrical grid . They are simply too expensive, Early adopters, tech nuts and people with too much money will buy them in the beginning,

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  176. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Perry,

     

    I am impressed with the pessimistic reality of your numbers – it is amzing how some back of the envelope calculations can bring dreams back to earth – if only the people who think solar PV can save the world would do the same.

    All that said, we need to start.

    Yes, the CAFE standards need to get serious – the bar needs to be set high enough to actually achieve something.  Instead it has become the ultimate example of system gaming, particularly the ethanol exemption.  I would be really interested to see how the fleet average would be enforced if all the big vehicle allowance was used by mid year, and from then on, the car companies could only sell small vehicles to meet their CAFE requirements – can yo see the government holding firm as the F-150 plant is idled for months because of the CAFE rules?

     

    Agreed there should be action on all three fronts.  The thing that unites them best is of course, high fuel prices, which the government goes out of its way to keep down.  All other OECD countries have taken their medicine on that and are further down all three paths than US/Canada. That is why Japan created an export industry in hybrid vehicles and N.A is an importer of them.

     

    But all is not lost, yet.

    I think the are with the biggest potential is “conservation” though I really don;t like to use that word.  I prefer “efficiency”, and “alternative transport” and “reducing transport intensity”.

    As you point out, to keep doing the same VMT each year, even with 100mpg cars, electric etc, will takes years/decades to make the big difference.  I think a simultaneous effort needs to be made on reducing VMT, by various means.  After all, that was done in WW2.

    In his book “why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller”, Jeff Rubin gives an interesting modern day equivalent, of Sarajevo (I think) during the Bosnia/Serbian crisis in the ’90s.   The city was effectively cut off from fuel supplies, though was not a warzone itself.  Somehow, people adapted and got on with their lives in their now quiet, traffic free city.

    I think there is much scope for restructuring the American economy to reduce the amount of vehicle miles (both passenger and goods) needed.  This won;t happen overnight either, but it needs to be started.  

    When the economy needs less transport miles per $gdp, or per person, take your pick, feeding the smaller beast becomes a lot easier, be it efficient vehicles, alt fuels or electrics.  I think to try to simply replace oil, as is,  with alt + electric is effectively impossible.

    But for government, that is a much easier sell than trying to convince people to drive less and smaller, so that ethanol and non-small electric is what we get!

     

     

     

     

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  177. By Kit P on October 6, 2010 at 8:36 am

    “Let me explain
    the difference.”

     

    Sounds like Paul is
    an environmental engineer you took too many environmental science
    classes. In any case you did not provide any information to support
    your claim of “most overpopulated” nor why we should care
    about Rwanda. It is there a lesson that I need to learn from Rwanda
    that we have not know for thousands of years? Violence leads to more
    violence.

     

    However, I do know
    how to produce food and energy with insignificant environmental
    impact but I am not willing to do it some place where I will get
    killed for my efforts.

     

    “why don’t you
    start a new thread for this in the Open Forum section”

     

    Rwanda?

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  178. By Kit P on October 6, 2010 at 8:51 am

    “I did some
    calculations on how much fuel EV’s will actually save us Mac.”

     

    If by ‘fuel’ you
    mean ‘energy’; BEV do not save any energy. In the US the energy will
    come from an inefficient SCGT.

     

    “We don’t have
    that kind of time.”

     

    You would be
    surprised what us engineers can do with an imperative. Here is the
    deal. You can not beat an ICE for POV. I can make one run on wood,
    coal, ammonia, hydrogen, NG but storing electricity in batteries is
    just not a very good engineering option until I run out of the other
    stuff. For the foreseeable future there is just no imperative to get
    young men to not think a red Mustang is the imperative.

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  179. By savro on October 6, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Perry said:

     

    Samuel got on me for posting an off topic link in the new thread, and now you’ve done the same thing here. I don’t know about Mac, but I didn’t even know about the Open Forum previously, and I’ve been posting here for months. Why does it matter if two guys want to banter back and forth on an old comment thread anyway? Robert said something about getting an e-mail when a comment is made. Are we flooding e-mail boxes when we post under an old thread?


     

    The basic idea is to try and keep the discussions as much on topic as possible. Discussions, as they stretch longer, often deviate naturally from the original point of the post or topic thread, but posting a totally irrelevant link is something else entirely.

    On topic discussion are usually the most educational, and we’d like to see a conscious effort made by the regular posters not to post an irrelevant link that will derail the discussion. However, I don’t like playing a policeman, nor do we want it to become a Communist style neighborhood watch program, where members are constantly debating whether a post was off topic (sorry Paul Yell). Just use common sense to keep the flow of debate and information going and on topic.

    As Paul stated earlier, you can post your own thread on the forums about the link you wanted to post – and indeed, we encourage that.

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  180. By Wendell Mercantile on October 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    John said, Noise is a red-herring put up by NIMBY types. Most turbines are nearly silent, even when standing directly underneath.

    John,

    Interesting story in yesterday’s New York Times about the noise of wind turbines. For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy — Noisy Wind Turbines Attract Complaints

    …they have learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own. Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states.

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  181. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Sam,

    Point taken.

    And since you have just started a new thread on the Leaf on the Open Forums section, we can carry on the discussion there.

     

     

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  182. By mac on October 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Perry,

    You forgot conversions. Automobiles that cost 25 Grand originally can be converted to electric. If the conversion of a 5 year old vehicle that cost 25,000 originally and is now worth just 10 grand costs 15,000 bucks it is still worth converting the gas guzzler since the price of a new and comparable car is even more than $25,000 dollars just 5 years later.

    No need to worry about replacing vehicles through normal sales. Listening Paul ? Most people pay off their cars off within 5 years, Rather than just buy a new car, just convert to electricity. This is, of course, exactly what will happen when you can’t find any more expendable fuels to stuff into the ICE.
    .

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  183. By paul-n on October 6, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Mac, I agree that there will be a market for conversions  - there is one already, of course.

    $15k is probably about right for a drive in – drive out conversion today, with lead-acid batteries.

    One company, near where I live, sells kit specifically made for certain vehicles, the most popular of which is the Chevy S-10 pickup.

    About $10k for the kit, not including batteries.

    Mass produced, these would get cheaper, but with labour etc it would probably be hard to get them under $10k.

    Also, of course, only the smaller vehicles are really worth it – no point converting a Suburban.

     

    Believe it or not, Mac I have seriously looked into this, both for my own vehicle and as a business.  I have come to the conclusion that you would need to be doing it to vehicles 5-10 years old, and you would then need to sell for about the new vehicle price to be profitable, just, assuming the new price is in the order of $20k.  Add more if you are using Li-ion batteries.

    When you can buy a new compact car today for $12k, that’s hard to compete with.   There are those people who will pay for the EV, and that is a growing, but still small market.

    Even going the series hybrid route is not much better – you save a few $k on batteries, but then have an engine etc.

    People have done cheap conversions with used forklift motors and the like, but that’s not a scalable option.  In almost all cases with conversions, the performance is less than the original, and the range is usually 30-60 miles, driving slowly (on lead acids)

    The Canev site has a good write about about their Geo conversion, on lead acid and then LI batteries.  Shows a clear advantage for LI, but there is a clear cost too.

     

    Don;t get me wrong Mac, I am all for electric vehicles – they can work if we are prepared to give up size, speed and/or range.   We just can’t have it all, and be electric at the same time, unless we have $60k per car to spend.

    I’ve looked at this from a lot of angles, and few of them are cheap.

    BUT, for an example of what can be done with a conversion, and how it could be done cheaply, have a look at what I put up over in the Open Forums section, about a world record for driving on a single charge

     

     

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  184. By Kit P on October 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

     

    “About $10k for the kit, not including batteries.”

     

    Have you calculated the weight of the batteries?  If the entire load of batteries is greater than the load capacity of the PU it is useless as a PU.

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  185. By paul-n on October 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    If the entire load of batteries is greater than the load capacity of the PU it is useless as a PU.

    Well, that depends on what they are using the PU for.  If they are using it as a daily driving vehicle, like you do, and not carrying much stuff, then it is suiting their needs.  If you need to carry, or tow a lot of stuff, then it is not suitable, and that company is very clear to their customers about that.  

    There is a substantial weight saving from removing the engine, (sometimes the gearbox) fuel tank, radiator, exhaust etc, but there is indeed a net increase in weight, and how much depends on how they do the conversion – it can be anywhere from 200 to 1500lbs.   For heavier conversions, they have to uprate the springs etc – at that point, you have gone too far, in my opinion.

    You can see a grand list of conversions, and their specs, here; http://www.evalbum.com.  Naturally there are lots of dreamers and freaks,  but a few a serious ones too.  These people want to spend their money on ev’s nstead of boats or whatever else, and power to them.  

    Most of these conversions use lead acid batteries and get 40-60miles on a charge.

    There is a good description, and some real driving electricity data,  of a professional conversion of a Suzuki Swift (Geo Metro), first with lead acids, then with lithium batteries, here.  It’s range is still limited of course, and it would have been expensive, but the customer will know that.

    People customise their vehicles, in all sorts of ways all the time, for all sorts of reasons, few of which ever make financial sense, but that’s not the objective.  For many, not all, of the EV conversions, saving money is not the objective either.  And unlike the new ev’s, they are not getting paid with our tax dollars to do it.

     

     

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  186. By Wendell Mercantile on October 19, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    RR~

    Here is the quote from Bryce’s book (p. 292) I thought was spot on:

    Engineers build things. Lawyers sue people who build things. One of the greatest challenges in the making of a smart, forward-looking, no-regrets energy policy in America is the paucity of knowledgeable people in positions of power on Capitol Hill and in Washington who truly understand energy.

    Congress is dominated by lawyers who want to make policy and write super-long, super-complex bills…

    In France, the most prestigious school is probably the École Polytechnique. In the U.S. it’s Harvard Law.

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