Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment would be way too low.” We are already encountering major grid problems, even with low penetrations of intermittent renewable electricity: US, 5.4% of 2015 electricity consumption; China, 3.9%; Germany, 19.5%; Australia, 6.6%.

In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.

Leaders around the world have demanded that their countries switch to renewable energy, without ever taking a very close look at what the costs and benefits were likely to be. A few simple calculations were made, such as “Life Cycle Assessment” and “Energy Returned on Energy Invested.” These calculations miss the fact that the intermittent energy being returned is of very much lower quality than is needed to operate the electric grid. They also miss the point that timing and the cost of capital are very important, as is the impact on the pricing of other energy products. This is basically another example of a problem I wrote about earlier, Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers.

Let’s look at some of the issues that we are encountering, as we attempt to add intermittent renewable energy to the electric grid.

Issue 1. Grid issues become a problem at low levels of intermittent electricity penetration.

In 2015, wind and solar PV amounted to only 12.2% of total electricity consumed in Hawaii, based on EIA data. Even at this low level, Hawaii is encountering sufficiently serious grid problems that it has needed to stop net metering (giving homeowners credit for the retail cost of electricity, when electricity is sold to the grid) and phase out subsidies.

Figure 1. Hawaii Electricity Production, based on EIA data. Other Disp. electricity is the sum of various other non-intermittent electricity sources, including geothermal and biomass burned as fuel.

Figure 1. Hawaii Electricity Production, based on EIA data. Other Disp. electricity is the sum of various other non-intermittent electricity sources, including geothermal and biomass burned as fuel.

Hawaii consists of a chain of islands, so it cannot import electricity from elsewhere. This is what I mean by “Generation = Consumption.” There is, of course, some transmission line loss with all electrical generation, so generation and consumption are, in fact, slightly different.

The situation is not too different in California. The main difference is that California can import non-intermittent (also called “dispatchable”) electricity from elsewhere. It is really the ratio of intermittent electricity to total electricity that is important, when it comes to balancing. California is running into grid issues at a similar level of intermittent electricity penetration (wind + solar PV) as Hawaii–about 12.3% of electricity consumed in 2015, compared to 12.2% for Hawaii.

Figure 2. California electricity consumption, based on EIA data. Other Disp. is the sum of other non-intermittent sources, including geothermal and biomass burned for electricity generation.

Figure 2. California electricity consumption, based on EIA data. Other Disp. is the sum of other non-intermittent sources, including geothermal and biomass burned for electricity generation.

Even with growing wind and solar production, California is increasingly dependent on non-intermittent electricity imported from other states.

Issue 2. The apparent “lid” on intermittent electricity at 10% to 15% of total electricity consumption is caused by limits on operating reserves.

Electric grids are set up with “operating reserves” that allow the electric grid to maintain stability, even if a large unit, such as a nuclear power plant, goes offline. These operating reserves typically handle fluctuations of 10% to 15% in the electricity supply.

If additional adjustment is needed, it is possible to take some commercial facilities offline, based on agreements offering lower rates for interruptible supply. It is also possible for certain kinds of power plants, particularly hydroelectric and natural gas “peaker plants,” to ramp production up or down quickly. Combined cycle natural gas plants also provide reasonably fast response.

In theory, changes can be made to the system to allow the system to be more flexible. One such change is adding more long distance transmission, so that the variable electricity can be distributed over a wider area. This way the 10% to 15% operational reserve “cap” applies more broadly. Another approach is adding energy storage, so that excess electricity can be stored until needed later. A third approach is using a “smart grid” to make changes, such as turning off all air conditioners and hot water heaters when electricity supply is inadequate. All of these changes tend to be slow to implement and high in cost, relative to the amount of intermittent electricity that can be added because of their implementation.

Issue 3. When there is no other workaround for excess intermittent electricity, it must be curtailed–that is, dumped rather than added to the grid.

Overproduction without grid capacity was a significant problem in Texas in 2009, causing about 17% of wind energy to be curtailed in 2009. At that time, wind energy amounted to about 5.0% of Texas’s total electricity consumption. The problem has mostly been fixed, thanks to a series of grid upgrades allowing wind energy to flow better from western Texas to eastern Texas.

Figure 3. Texas electricity net generation based on EIA data. The Texas grid is separate, so there is no imported or exported electricity.

Figure 3. Texas electricity net generation based on EIA data. The Texas grid is separate, so there is no imported or exported electricity.

In 2015, total intermittent electricity from wind and solar amounted to only 10.1% of Texas electricity. Solar has never been large enough to be visible on the chart–only 0.1% of consumption in 2015. The total amount of intermittent electricity consumed in Texas is only now beginning to reach the likely 10% to 15% limit of operational reserves. Thus, it is “behind” Hawaii and California in reaching intermittent electricity limits.

Based on the modeling of the company that oversees the California electric grid, electricity curtailment in California is expected to be significant by 2024, if the 40% California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is followed, and changes are not made to fix the problem.

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Issue 4. When all costs are included, including grid costs and indirect costs, such as the need for additional storage, the cost of intermittent renewables tends to be very high.

In Europe, there is at least a reasonable attempt to charge electricity costs back to consumers. In the United States, renewable energy costs are mostly hidden, rather than charged back to consumers. This is easy to do, because their usage is still low.

Euan Mearns finds that in Europe, the greater the proportion of wind and solar electricity included in total generation, the higher electricity prices are for consumers.

Figure 5. Figure by Euan Mearns showing relationship between installed wind + solar capacity and European electricity rates. Source Energy Matters.

Figure 5. Figure by Euan Mearns showing relationship between installed wind + solar capacity and European electricity rates. Source Energy Matters.

The five countries shown in red have all had financial difficulties. High electricity prices may have contributed to their problems.

The United States is not shown on this chart, since it is not part of Europe. If it were, it would be a bit below, and to the right of, Czech Republic and Romania.

Issue 5. The amount that electrical utilities are willing to pay for intermittent electricity is very low. 

The big question is, “How much value does adding intermittent electricity add to the electrical grid?” Clearly, adding intermittent electricity allows a utility to reduce the amount of fossil fuel energy that it might otherwise purchase. In some cases, the addition of solar electricity slightly reduces the amount of new generation needed. This reduction occurs because of the tendency of solar to offer supply when the usage of air conditioners is high on summer afternoons. Of course, in advanced countries, the general tendency of electricity usage is down, thanks to more efficient light bulbs and less usage by computer screens and TV monitors.

At the same time, the addition of intermittent electricity adds a series of other costs:

  • Many more hook-ups to generation devices are needed. Homes now need two-way connections, instead of one-way connections. Someone needs to service these connections and check for problems.
  • Besides intermittency problems, the mix of active and reactive power may be wrong. The generation sources may cause frequency deviations larger than permitted by regulations.
  • More long-distance electricity transmission lines are needed, so that the new electricity can be distributed over a wide enough area that it doesn’t cause oversupply problems when little electricity is needed (such as weekends in the spring and fall).
  • As electricity is transported over longer distances, there is more loss in transport.
  • To mitigate some of these problems, there is a need for electricity storage. This adds two kinds of costs: (1) Cost for the storage device, and (2) Loss of electricity in the process.
  • As I will discuss later, intermittent energy tends to lead to very low wholesale electricity prices. Other electricity providers need to be compensated for the effects these low prices cause; otherwise they will leave the market.

To sum up, when intermittent electricity is added to the electric grid, the primary savings are fuel savings. At the same time, significant costs of many different types are added, acting to offset these savings. In fact, it is not even clear that when a comparison is made, the benefits of adding intermittent electricity are greater than the costs involved.

According to the EIA’s 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report, the major way intermittent electricity is sold to electric utilities is as part of long term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), typically lasting for 20 years. Utilities buy PPAs as a way of hedging against the possibility that natural gas prices will rise in the future. The report indicates that the recent selling price for PPAs is about $25 to $28 per MWh (Figure 6). This is equivalent to 2.5  to 2.8 cents per kWh, which is very inexpensive.

Figure 6. EIA exhibit showing the median and mean cost of wind PPAs compared to EIA's forecast price of natural gas, from 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report.

Figure 6. EIA exhibit showing the median and mean cost of wind PPAs compared to EIA’s forecast price of natural gas, from 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report.

In effect, what utilities are trying to do is hedge against rising fuel prices of whatever kind they choose to purchase. They may even be able to afford to make other costly changes, such as more transmission lines and energy storage, so that more intermittent electricity can be accommodated.

Issue 6. When intermittent electricity is sold in competitive electricity markets (as it is in California, Texas, and Europe), it frequently leads to negative wholesale electricity prices. It also shaves the peaks off high prices at times of high demand.

In states and countries that use competitive pricing (rather than utility pricing, used in some states), the wholesale price of electricity price varies from minute to minute, depending on the balance between supply and demand. When there is an excess of intermittent electricity, wholesale prices often become negative. Figure 7 shows a chart by a representative of the company that oversees the California electric grid.

Figure 7. Exhibit showing problem of negative electricity prices in California, from EIA Convention Presentation.

Figure 7. Exhibit showing problem of negative electricity prices in California, from a presentation at the 2016 EIA Annual Conference.

Clearly, the number of negative price spikes increases, as the proportion of intermittent electricity increases. A similar problem with negative prices has been reported in Texas and in Europe.

When solar energy is included in the mix of intermittent fuels, it also tends to reduce peak afternoon prices. Of course, these minute-by-minute prices don’t really flow back to the ultimate consumers, so it doesn’t affect their demand. Instead, these low prices simply lead to lower funds available to other electricity producers, most of whom cannot quickly modify electricity generation.

To illustrate the problem that arises, Figure 8, prepared by consultant Paul-Frederik Bach, shows a comparison of Germany’s average wholesale electricity prices (dotted line) with residential electricity prices for a number of European countries. Clearly, wholesale electricity prices have been trending downward, while residential electricity prices have been rising. In fact, if prices for nuclear, natural gas, and coal-fired electricity had been fair prices for these other providers, residential electricity prices would have trended upward even more quickly than shown in the graph!

Figure 8. Residential Electricity Prices in Europe, together with Germany spot wholesale price, from http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/references/pfb_towards_50_pct_wind_in_denmark_2016_03_30.pdf

Figure 8. Residential Electricity Prices in Europe, together with Germany spot wholesale price, from http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/references/pfb_towards_50_pct_wind_in_denmark_2016_03_30.pdf

Note that the recent average wholesale electricity price is about 30 euros per MWh, which is equivalent to 3.0 cents per kWh. In US dollars this would equate to $36 per MWh, or 3.6 cents per kWh. These prices are higher than prices paid by PPAs for intermittent electricity ($25 to $28 per MWh), but not a whole lot higher.

The problem we encounter is that prices in the $36 MWh range are too low for almost every kind of energy generation. Figure 9 from Bloomberg is from 2013, so is not entirely up to date, but gives an idea of the basic problem.

Figure 9. Global leveled cost of energy production by Bloomberg.

Figure 9. Global leveled cost of energy production by Bloomberg.

A price of $36 per MWh is way down at the bottom of the chart, between 0 and 50. Pretty much no energy source can be profitable at such a level. Too much investment is required, relative to the amount of energy produced. We reach a situation where nearly every kind of electricity provider needs subsidies. If they cannot receive subsidies, many of them will close, leaving the market with only a small amount of unreliable intermittent electricity, and little back-up capability.

This same problem with falling wholesale prices, and a need for subsidies for other energy producers, has been noted in California and Texas. The Wall Street Journal ran an article earlier this week about low electricity prices in Texas, without realizing that this was a problem caused by wind energy, not a desirable result!

Issue 7. Other parts of the world are also having problems with intermittent electricity.

Germany is known as a world leader in intermittent electricity generation. Its intermittent generation hit 12.2% of total generation in 2012. As you will recall, this is the level where California and Hawaii started to reach grid problems. By 2015, its intermittent electricity amounted to 19.5% of total electricity generated.

Figure 10. German electricity generated, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Figure 10. German electricity generated, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016.

Needless to say, such high intermittent electricity generation leads to frequent spikes in generation. Germany chose to solve this problem by dumping its excess electricity supply on the European Union electric grid. Poland, Czech Republic, and Netherlands complained to the European Union. As a result, the European Union mandated that from 2017 onward, all European Union countries (not just Germany) can no longer use feed-in tariffs. Doing so provides too much of an advantage to intermittent electricity providers. Instead, EU members must use market-responsive auctioning, known as “feed-in premiums.” Germany legislated changes that went even beyond the minimum changes required by the European Union. Dörte Fouquet, Director of the European Renewable Energy Federation, says that the German adjustments will “decimate the industry.”

In Australia, one recent headline was Australia Considers Banning Wind Power Because It’s Causing Blackouts. The problem seems to be in South Australia, where the last coal-fired power plants are closing because subsidized wind is leading to low wholesale electricity prices. Australia, as a whole, does not have a high intermittent electricity penetration ratio (6.6% of 2015 electricity consumption), but grid limitations mean that South Australia is disproportionately affected.

China has halted the approval of new wind turbine installations in North China because it does not have grid capacity to transport intermittent electricity to more populated areas. Also, most of China’s electricity production is from coal, and it is difficult to use coal to balance with wind and solar because coal-fired plants can only be ramped up slowly. China’s total use of wind and solar is not very high (3.9% of consumption in 2015), but it is already encountering major difficulties in grid integration.

Issue 8. The amount of subsidies provided to intermittent electricity is very high.

The renewable energy program in the United States consists of overlapping local, state, and federal programs. It includes mandates, feed-in tariffs, exemption from taxes, production tax credits, and other devices. This combination of approaches makes it virtually impossible to figure out the amount of the subsidy by adding up the pieces. We are pretty certain, however, that the amount is high. According to the National Wind Watch Organization,

At the federal level, the production or investment tax credit and double-declining accelerated depreciation can pay for two-thirds of a wind power project. Additional state incentives, such as guaranteed markets and exemption from property taxes, can pay for another 10%.

If we believe this statement, the developer only pays about 23% of the cost of a wind energy project.

The US Energy Information Administration prepared an estimate of certain types of subsidies (those provided by the federal government and targeted particularly at energy) for the year 2013. These amounted to a total of $11.3 billion for wind and solar combined. About 183.3 terawatts of wind and solar energy was sold during 2013, at a wholesale price of about 2.8 cents per kWh, leading to a total selling price of $5.1 billion dollars. If we add the wholesale price of $5.1 billion to the subsidy of $11.3 billion, we get a total of $16.4 billion paid to developers or used in special grid expansion programs. This subsidy amounts to 69% of the estimated total cost. Any subsidy from states, or from other government programs, would be in addition to the amount from this calculation.

Paul-Frederik Bach shows a calculation of wind energy subsidies in Denmark, comparing the prices paid under the Public Service Obligation (PSO) system to the market price for wind. His calculations show that both the percentage and dollar amount of subsidies have been rising. In 2015, subsidies amounted to 66% of the total PSO cost.

Figure 11. Amount of subsidy for wind energy in Netherlands, as calculated by comparing paid for wind under PSO with market value of wind energy. Exhibit from http://www.pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/references/pfb_towards_50_pct_wind_in_denmark_2016_03_30.pdf

Figure 11. Amount of subsidy for wind energy in Netherlands, as calculated by comparing paid for wind under PSO with market value of wind energy. Exhibit from http://www.pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/references/pfb_towards_50_pct_wind_in_denmark_2016_03_30.pdf

In a sense, these calculations do not show the full amount of subsidy. If renewables are to replace fossil fuels, they must pay taxes to governments, just as fossil fuel providers do now. Energy providers are supposed to provide “net energy” to the system. The way that they share this net energy with governments is by paying taxes of various kinds–income taxes, property taxes, and special taxes associated with extraction. If intermittent renewables are to replace fossil fuels, they need to provide tax revenue as well. Current subsidy calculations don’t consider the high taxes paid by fossil fuel providers, and the need to replace these taxes, if governments are to have adequate revenue.

Also, the amount and percentage of required subsidy for intermittent renewables can be expected to rise over time, as more areas exceed the limits of their operating reserves, and need to build long distance transmission to spread intermittent electricity over a larger area. This seems to be happening in Europe now. In 2015, the revenue generated by the wholesale price of intermittent electricity amounted to about 13.1 billion euros, according to my calculations. In order to expand further, policy advisor Daniel Genz with Vattenfall indicates that grids across Europe will need to be upgraded, at a cost of between 100 and 400 billion euros. In other words, grid expenditures will be needed that amount to between 7.6 and 30.5 times wholesale revenues received from intermittent electricity in 2015. Most of this will likely need to come from additional subsidies, because there is no possibility that the return on this investment can be very high.

There is also the problem of the low profit levels for all of the other electricity providers, when intermittent renewables are allowed to sell their electricity whenever it becomes available. One potential solution is huge subsidies for other providers. Another is buying a lot of energy storage, so that energy from peaks can be saved and used when supply is low. A third solution is requiring that renewable energy providers curtail their production when it is not needed. Any of these solutions is likely to require subsidies.

Conclusion

We already seem to be reaching limits with respect to intermittent electricity supply. The US Energy Information Administration may be reaching the same conclusion. It chose Steve Kean from Kinder Morgan (a pipeline company) as its keynote speaker at its July 2016 Annual Conference. He made the following statements about renewable energy.

Figure 1. Excerpt from Keynote Address slide at US Energy Administration Conference by Steve Kean of Kinder-Morgan.

Figure 12. Excerpt from Keynote Address slide at US Energy Administration Conference by Steve Kean of Kinder Morgan.

This view is very similar to mine. Few people have stopped to realize that intermittent electricity isn’t worth very much. It may even have negative value, when the cost of all of the adjustments needed to make it useful are considered.

Energy products are very different in “quality.” Intermittent electricity is of exceptionally low quality. The costs that intermittent electricity impose on the system need to be paid by someone else. This is a huge problem, especially as penetration levels start exceeding the 10% to 15% level that can be handled by operating reserves, and much more costly adjustments must be made to accommodate this energy. Even if wind turbines and solar panels could be produced for $0, it seems likely that the costs of working around the problems caused by intermittent electricity would be greater than the compensation that can be obtained to fix those problems.

The situation is a little like adding a large number of drunk drivers, or of self-driving cars that don’t really work as planned, to a highway system. In theory, other drivers can learn to accommodate them, if enough extra lanes are added, and the concentration of the poorly operating vehicles is kept low enough. But a person needs to understand exactly what the situation is, and understand the cost of all of the adjustments that need to be made, before agreeing to allow the highway system to add more poorly behaving vehicles.

In An Updated Version of the Peak Oil Story, I talked about the fact that instead of oil “running out,” it is becoming too expensive for our economy to accommodate. The economy does not perform well when the cost of energy products is very high. The situation with new electricity generation is similar. We need electricity products to be well-behaved (not act like drunk drivers) and low in cost, if they are to be successful in growing the economy. If we continue to add large amounts of intermittent electricity to the electric grid without paying attention to these problems, we run the risk of bringing the whole system down.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,882 Responses to Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity

  1. SteveJermy says:

    Gale,
    I work in the renewables industry – tidal and wave – the former of which is predictable, and whilst I get the general message in your article, what you don’t explain is what the alternative is.

    The issue is surely clear. Fossil fuels are running out, quite soon if you take the Hubbert’s Peak or Senica Curve view (which I do) or later if you take the economists’ view that scarcity will trigger recovery of the more costly fields. So what will replace them? The only options are nuclear and renewables, and even these will struggle in air and road transportation, and construction.

    What renewables surely do do, even though intermittent, is to reduce the rate at which we consume the remaining fossil fuels – even more so, if we can improve storage – and this in turn allows us to use the remaining fossil fuels for longer and in a much more intelligent way. In particular, it should allow us to use the remaining fossil fuels – particularly the remaining crude oil – to invest better in a post fossil fuels energy infrastructure.

    • Sorry, the crucial point Gail and others make is that renewables are in the real world performing only as “also runs” or “side kicks” meaning a parallel system – they don’t replace much (10-15% tops) because the stability of the grid (and the overall legacy infrastructure sucking e-juice) needs traditional base load sources..

      In terms of transportation. We have got rail and containers (rivers in some places), which is good enough, and for the last mile trucking can be adopted to LPG/NG, also the Scandinavians have advanced testing program of trolley trucks on normal wheels, so it only takes refitting desirable portions of highways and the trolley trucking fleet.

      This is not problem.
      People are the problem with their biases/greed/turfs etc… as always..

      • It really doesn’t work this way. We can’t scale back to a smaller amount, because the problem is much more basic. Our problem is that workers at the bottom of the hierarchy (lesser skilled, non-managerial) can’t afford the output of the economy. It is the lack of ability to afford goods like homes and cars that causes commodity prices to drop too low. With too low prices, companies producing all kinds of commodities go out of business. More and more people and businesses have trouble repaying debt with interest. Banks go bankrupt. The crash is really a financial crash, on the too low side.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          We can see this with oil — with prices below break-even the industry is losing billions each quarter…

          If we ‘scale back’ that = less demand for oil = oil prices collapsing even further = bankruptcy of the oil industry = the lights go out and the party is over.

        • Artleads says:

          “It is the lack of ability to afford goods like homes and cars that causes commodity prices to drop too low. ”

          Oy. Cars and homes again. The scourge of the devil. Will they ever go away?!

          • Only if use walking as transportation and build homes with available materials that we can easily gather with our hands.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Rock houses last for centuries as opposed to wooden ones. Unfortunately we’re too busy learning how to use iPads to bother with trivial things like gardening or building stuff.

            • rerun the flintstones while we still have teevee

            • Tango Oscar says:

              I have off-grid solar and fully intend to be one of the last humans playing a Playstation or watching The Matrix. If I could do that even one full year after a fast collapse scenario I would consider myself winning at life.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Look at getting a solar powered disco ball and stereo — for the party of course

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Don’t forget the battery if you want to dance at night, and who doesn’t? It’ll be sure to attract more zombies from a further distance if they see a disco ball at night.

            • sheilach2 says:

              I hope you have at least a years worth of FOOD on hand while your playing games because once the grid collapses & the trucks stop bringing in your food, you’ll get awfully HUNGRY!
              Solar panels & wind turbines will do nothing to ease the food shortage, provide energy for transportation or support manufacturing with energy & raw material now obtained from OIL.

              I have to laugh at those folks who believe that just because their “off the grid” everything will be just hunky dory!
              What about food & water? solar panels & wind turbines provide none of that either.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Where in my statement did I say that everything is going to be awesome because I have off-grid solar? I fully understand that “renewable” energy doesn’t truly exist. I also don’t plan on making it very long after collapse, regardless of how much prepping is done.

              I have well over a years worth of food stocked up, a large garden, guns/ammo, rainwater catchment, a woodstove, and on and on. When collapse hits though I have absolutely no delusional thoughts that everything will be “hunky dory.”

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Doomsday Prepper Tip of the Day:

              Watch all episodes of at least twice

              https://images6.alphacoders.com/439/439732.jpg

    • Froggman says:

      In a finite world, one will inevitably reach the point where there is no “next”, no “replacement”. That’s the nature of finitude, and that’s where we’re at.

    • scott says:

      Everyone may have to accept the possibility that there is no viable alternative. Just because we want and need an alternative doesn’t mean it exists.

    • working in the industry i would have thought you would have grasped the fundamentals of resource acquisition and usage by now

      past a certain point, scarcity cannot trigger recoveries of hydrocarbon resources, because the recovery process itself requires energy input at an ever increasing rate. As the two factors approach parity—civilisation as we know it is over.

      A……The calorific value of a barrel of oil is fixed.

      B……the caloriific value of the energy required to get hold of it is variable

      One of my civilisation laws:

      If A is greater than B by a factor of at least 12, we can live (just)
      If it drops below that, and continues to fall, we die.

      How will we die? By fighting over what’s left, in a state of denial until all access to worthwhile oil supplies becomes impossible.
      And no, the USA will not become self sufficient in oil or anything else except political hot air.
      Failing oil supplies will result in civil unrest. (already there are 50million on food aid)
      feel free to add your own guesses when that figure hits 100m

      • The issue is sort of related to what you are talking about, but I am not convinced that the statement, “If A is greater than B by a factor of at least 12, we can live (just).”

        We have a system that cannot shrink, because as we build our networked system, the support structure we need for lower levels are pulled away. Also, we need increased concentrations of energy to make our networked system work. These concentrations pull energy away from other parts of the system, and cause it to fail. Needless to say, the financial system fails as well, when the system attempts to shrink.

        I know that there are Peer Reviewed papers that say something close to what you are saying. What I am saying is that whether or not it is peer reviewed, it is really not correct. It is the inability of our system to shrink, and the constantly rising need for growing (net) energy that is the problem. This energy must be of precisely the right kinds to operate our current devices.

    • “What renewables surely do do, even though intermittent, is to reduce the rate at which we consume the remaining fossil fuels –”

      Are you certain that renewables result in a net extension of fossil fuels? Counting the amount invested in creating the renewables, the factory that makes those renewables, the energy and materials used to extract the energy and materials? The maintenance of the systems? The storage to make the intermittent power dispatchable, or the cost of having a fossil fuel back-up system in addition to the renewables?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I’ve explained in another post — because renewables have no nett energy return i.e. the amount of energy used to manufacture, transport and maintain them … is more than the energy that you get out of them…. they waste fossil fuels.

      What we should be doing is – instead of burning coal to make solar panels — and getting less energy out than we put in — is burning the coal directly to produce electricity.

      The really sad thing about solar panels is that we need to burn massive amounts of coal now — in order to drip it out over the life span of the solar systems….

      So we are roaring the coal-fired plants in China to make all these solar panels….

      When you see those clouds of smog in China …. remember — one of the causes is ‘clean – renewable’ energy

      https://media.mnn.com/assets/images/2013/02/Beijing-smog-air-quality.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart.jpg

      The same goes for all forms of alternative energy.

    • I am afraid the situation is “game over” for us humans (or at least most of us), if we don’t have suitable widely available cheap-to-produce substitutes. The people who survive will fall back to a much lower level of living. I am afraid this lower level will be hunter-gathering, because we don’t have the base set up for any intermediate civilization, such as one in which horses are used for labor. There may be some farmers/agricultural people who live a few years using tools they have saved, but in the long run, I expect that farming will die out, unless people can replace their tools and put together the whole civilization that goes with farming. The people who are best adapted to hunter-gathering are people who are now hunter-gatherers.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Gail… might you be interested in endorsing and being the ‘face’ of http://www.huntergathercourses.com…. This is a very lucrative position.

        • sheilach2 says:

          I keep getting server not found or if I just search for “huntergathercourses” I get “no results found for huntergathercourses” instantly. looks suspicious!
          Aside from that, what will still be alive to eat after we collapse? Humans are omnivorous, we can eat just about anything, so what will there be left to eat other than each other?
          I would expect all domesticated animals to have been eaten as well as all domesticated seeds, most wildlife will be gone except perhaps for rats, mice & small reptiles. Then there will be a much more hostile climate that we might not be able to survive.

          Kinda hard to “hunt & gather” under such conditions eh, “Fast Eddy”?
          Better to “Party like it’s 1999” while we still can, times are a changin faster & sooner than expected.

        • I don’t think that they would want me. Younger and male would help a lot.

      • Artleads says:

        This seems to be thinking way too far ahead. The big mystery for me is the next 3 to 5 years. And I think it’s overlooked how gradually (and misleadingly) the system is collapsing now. Just shopping today, I perceive that the price of meat has doubled in the last 5 years. It’s misleading, though, for prices come down often enough to fool the public into thinking BAU continues normally. Even Michelle Bachman claims that there will not be another presidential election. That there will be another Olympics is questionable. When we don’t know how all this will play out, how can we be jumping 100 years ahead?

        • anything bachmann says has to be taken with the entire output of your local saltmine

          however—if the economic crash is severe enough, then civil unrest is inevitable.

          that means martial law and suspension of democratic process—so whoever is in office at the time will eith take dictatorial powers, or a dictator will grab power—almost certainly in the guise of a theocracy —(purely as a temporary measure of course)

          • psile says:

            I think multicultural places like Australia, Sweden or Canada, with weak national cohesiveness will likely disintegrate as soon as the sh#t really hits it…depopulation from starvation, disease, violence and pestilence will be so swift and severe that they will more resemble those in the movie “I Am Legend”, but without any of the cutesiness.

          • CTG says:

            Martial law is only applicable for
            1) places with few firearms
            2) compliant population
            3) Places that are not interconnected financially or a cog in the world supply chain
            4) Martial law destroys confidence. No confidence, financial systems collapses.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Agree – when the authorities are forced to go to a hard version of martial law… all is lost… total collapse will occur within weeks….

              Things will move quickly… once they get underway.

            • “Martial law is only applicable for”

              Martial Law is a temporary measure. The long term version is a Police State. Places that meet your requirements of low firearms, compliant population, etc, sounds like Singapore and Hong Kong, which seem to have very low crime, which are financial hubs.

              Having soldiers manning checkpoints throughout an area all the time is a massive waste of resources. Having cameras, civilians reporting their neighbors, and a relatively small but effective police force seems like an optimization on the problem. Of course, such a state can only exist with steady surpluses.

      • sheilach2 says:

        The native amerikkkans didn’t have metal tools, the horse & ox, hybrid seeds, artificial fertilizers, pesticides or fossil fuels but they did have agriculture, they developed new sources of food from wild plants without GMO, that’s how we got maize, beans, potatoes, coca, coco, vanilla, squash, sweet potatoes, cotton & wild rice. They did have some other domesticated plants as well but after the European invasion, they were lost.
        Agriculture will probably not die after our collapse but our “modern” high energy form of agriculture will.
        The BIG question is, can domesticated plants, animals & us survive climate change?
        If the greenhouse effect gets as bad as it was at the end of the Permian period, then no, neither we or our food plants will survive, it will be a hot, microbial world.

  2. Gregg Armstrong says:

    JM asked:

    “Here is a blunt question: Is the B-2 Stealth Bomber actually useful or not (or is it easily knocked out of the sky)?”

    Oh, yes, it is very useful. The B-2’s have flown many bombing missions. Due to its low observable a design it is not easily detected, and to my knowledge, none have been lost in combat.

    • JM says:

      According to the wikipedia article, a missile has never been fired at it. And I believe its combat missions have been limited to engagements with weak defenses. So its hard to tell if it actually is effective or not than say a B-52.
      Same goes with the synthetic fuel mystery based on:

      High temperature solid fuel uranium nuclear reactors, fresh water and the dilute carbon (or whatever other carbon source including coal, seawater) in the air. I don’t care about economics, does it work at all in generating a few thousand barrels a day at one plant site?

      Synthetic fuel involving nukes is a real mystery. Nobody seems to know much about whether a high temp nuke is an effective source of process heat or not.

    • psile says:

      Who have they actually had to fight against? The Taliban, Al Qaida and ISIS? Lol…

  3. JM says:

    Here is a blunt question: Is the B-2 Stealth Bomber actually useful or not (or is it easily knocked out of the sky)?

    • Tim Groves says:

      “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
      ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  4. CTG says:

    Some tidbits :

    http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

    The list above shows the number of jobs by category. It is only for USA, which is good enough to be used as an example. Please sort by EMPLOYMENT so that the most employees are listed on the top. The first one will be Office and Administrative Support Occupations with more than 21m workers.

    As you browser through the list, practically all of them are not related to food production.

    In response of Zantel (page 9) when he said that we should not be extrapolating the use of energy in the new ear (i.e. low energy era) and the number of planes will be less.

    I think everyone agrees that jobs are required in order to feed hungry stomachs. Government handouts to everyone does not work; therefore, no jobs, no food.

    Have a look at the table above and be honest to yourself, how many jobs will disappear if the number of planes are cut into half of existing number?

    Where are all the people going to work? Retraining ? for what job and in what field? Everyone becomes paper pushers? Telepresence? Conference calls? If it is that effective, we would not have low cost carriers popping up in the world.

    Tourism industry will be dead. How many are involved in tourism? Check out

    https://www.statista.com/topics/962/global-tourism/

    So, how are all the people in that industry survive? In my line of work, my clients must take a plane and come over and meet up. It cannot be done via conference call or whatever virtual reality there is.

    Sad to say that we are too interconnected

    • CTG says:

      People don’t realize that if the travel agents don’t buy computers or printers, the local computer shops can close down due to slow sales and it will also affect the local department stores as consumers dropped as well. There will be a tipping point where many will not have enough money to feed themselves. So, I have no idea how a reduction of number of planes flying people around work.

      • CTG says:

        We need a ever rising growth. If we have slow growth, it will stall and collapse. That is the feature of the system that we are current living in.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          If anyone has missed this previously…

          You won’t like downsizing
          http://www.endofmore.com/?p=1464

        • Artleads says:

          https://ampersandprojectblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/inspiration-the-in-breath/

          This definitely puts me in mind of the Twilight Zone. I know this blogger and her project, which I imagine she sees as a formula for saving the world. Or maybe she doesn’t think the world even needs to be saved.

          All the study, all the work, all the growth. As she adds on more and more, won’t all this accretion become her enslaver?

          She’s “off-grid,” with the pride that off-grid people display. She’s appreciative of some guerilla art I did in a garden she runs, but only because I did it quietly, without notice. She might not have been supportive had I made a proposal to do it. She has to be surprised. I often feel that I’m talking to a wall, and that she can’t SEE very far. Maybe that’s why she is so delighted with her paradise that exists in a tiny bubble in the hills. Hers is a syndrome that depresses me. But has she done and does she know stuff that’s of vital importance for all? Yes indeed. Every thing she does can be useful, but, IMO, only with a different mental map of the world.

          • I wonder how she plans to get replacement parts for her bicycle. Or a replacement for the road, for that matter. Off grid seems to still mean quite dependent on our current way of life.

            • Artleads says:

              Plus the social upheaval all around–mayhem based on the mainstream being much less self-sufficient than she. As you say, she’s living on the mercy of the system. Implying vast privilege on one side and super privation on the other. It’s not understanding this, or acting with this in mind, that irritates me. Being so damn self satisfied…

        • I agree! Our system is designed to keep growing. The whole system of building capital goods needs to be financed by debt (or sale of stock) because capital goods are sold, before benefit is gained from their operation. Intermittent renewables are sold based on what they “might” do over the next 20 years, if everything works as planned. Generally, interest must be paid as well. Keeping the whole system going (and growing) requires debt.

    • The banks are the big thing connecting all industries. If the banks fail, it is very hard to pay employees. It is hard to keep the whole system going. Governments are likely to collapse.

  5. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Re: Power Satellites discussions

    The United States is reduced to begging rides aboard Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station and then returning to Earth in the Russian capsule.

    The Saturn V, the heaviest lift rocket ever to reach operational status, was retired over three decades ago. Each Saturn V launch cost ~$1.3 trillion in 2014 $US. The Space Shuttle is also retired. The reusable Space Shuttle launches were also horrendously expensive.

    The whole idea of building satellites with massive photovoltaic solar cell arrays and sending them into geosynchronous orbit to capture sunshine to be beamed back to Earth as microwaves seems like a wild goose chase.

    No one has payload shroud larger in diameter than 5 meters. That means very complicated engineering just to be able to stow and unfold arrays. Or to not unfold as happened with SkyLab. That’s a massive capital investment to build self-assembling in space (?) satellite modules and launchers and producing fuel and oxidizer to capture sunlight that falls on the Earth every day.

    People do not understand that space vehicles are vastly more complicated and unforgiving than airplanes. We have been experimenting with space planes since the early 1960’s like the X-15 that was dropped from a B-52 mothership. The transition from X-15 and DynaSoar to the Space Shuttle required massive dedicated strap-on solid rocket boosters, an external liquid fuel and oxidizer tank and three immensely powerful throttleable rocket engines. The cost and complexity increased exponentially. Unfortunately the demonstrated operational reliability was orders of magnitude less than design requirements.

    I just cannot see the United States Congress and the American People approving, say, a ten-year long multi-trillion dollar engineering, test & evaluation program to develop very heavy lift boosters. That’s not including production costs. They’ll ask the same question I have: “Why go to space to capture sunlight that already freely shines down on us everyday?” It is just not going to happen.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “Re: Power Satellites discussions”

      Gregg, you are an engineer.

      The current discussion is about the problems of integrating intermittent power into the grid. Power satellites at least solve the intermittency problem.

      It’s always possible to make assumption that make any proposal impossible. The last time Boeing looked into the cost of power satellites (2009) the number came out about 60 times too expensive.

      We need a reasonable estimation of what a power satellite would mass. The work Boeing did back in the 70 gave us a 10 kg/kW mass, or for a 5 GWe system, it took 50,000 tons in space. The 5 GW (on the ground) is due to the physics of microwave transmission and the frequency. 2.45 GHz is the one more often used.

      Over the years the mass been cut down, but not a lot. The Japanese use a figure of 7 kg/kW, I think a thermal design that uses light radiators will come in at 6.5 kg/kW. That’s still 32,500 tons. And forget large payload shrouds, these things have to be constructed in space. Sunlight in space is 1.368 GW per square km. You have to feed 10 GW to the transmitter to get 5 GW on earth, so using a 40% efficient conversion you need 18 square km of sunlight intercept area. No way something like that can be unfolded.

      If you work levelized cost of electricity backwards, for 3 cents a kWh (no fuel, serious amount of maintenance) the maximum capital expense is around $2400/kW. The three cent per kWh figure is low enough to capture market share from coal in India. The cost of a 10 km diameter rectenna come in at $200 per kW (one of them is a billion dollar project). The estimated parts cost for the space generation is $900/kW. That leaves $1300/kW for the transport cost or $200/kg–to GEO.

      That’s your target cost for power satellites to make economic sense. It’s a 100 to one reduction over the cost to lift communication satellites to GEO.

      Does it make physics sense? The energy cost for lifting a kg from Earth surface to GEO is around 15 kWh/kg, at 3 cents a kWh, less than half a dollar per kg. Alas, we don’t have and are unlikely to ever have a moving cable space elevator to get this efficiency.

      I agree with you that rockets, even ones that can be reused a few times are unlikely to come close to the required cost number. They might get it down to $2000/kg, but that lift cost makes power from space completely uneconomical.

      The only current hope to get the cost down in this range is from Reaction Engines, a UK company which has figured out a design which they think is a SSTO. Not sure how to post the cost vs launch rate graph, but it is slide 19 here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5iotdmmTJQsek9TNHhkeUI4UDlRQlNyVUNMclhJYkpxa3Jz/view?usp=sharing

      At very high flight rates, the cost per kg goes slightly under $100/kg. That’s *still* not enough. To keep the reaction mass down for the LEO to GEO run, you need 20 km/s electric arcjets. To power those, you need 1/10th scale power satellites dedicated to propulsion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEkZkINrJaA

      If you can find holes in the logic or math, please let me know.

    • Wikipedia says,

      From 1964 until 1973, $6.417 billion ($41.4 billion in 2016) in total was appropriated for the R&D and flights of the Saturn V, with the maximum being in 1966 with $1.2 billion ($8.75 billion in 2016).[1] That same year, NASA received its biggest budget of US$4.5 billion, about 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States at that time.

      One of the main reasons for the cancellation of the last three Apollo flights was the cost. In the time frame from 1969 to 1971 the cost of launching a Saturn V Apollo mission was US $185 to $189 million,[2][1] of which $110 million was for the production of the vehicle.[53] (inflation adjusted US$ 0.71 billion in 2016).

      This seems to be far cheaper than what you are saying: “Each Saturn V launch cost ~$1.3 trillion in 2014 $US.”

    • Pintada says:

      Dear Gregg Armstrong;

      Good analysis, inevitable conclusion.

      Good Job,
      Pintada

  6. Christian says:

    Nice article, especially its conclusion

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-18/another-market-descends-chaos-it%E2%80%99s-madness-market-makes-major-moves-no-reason

    I’m relieved to see here we still only do this:

    “For nearly a century, meatpackers and producers would haul animals to stockyards and auction barns, to physically buy and sell thousands of cattle almost daily for cash.”

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Capitalism — on a finite planet — was always doomed to fail.

      • psile says:

        We would have overshot and crashed, sooner or later. Look at how steadily the population climbed over the aeons. Steadily ratcheting higher as we switched our livelihoods from hunter-gathering, to agriculture, empire-building and colonisation all in response to our success in eliminating the equilibrium that sustained us in the past. Capitalism is just overshoot in overdrive, fuelled by cheap fossil fuels.

        As a species we are servants to entropy it seems. It was our job to merely release all the backed energy that had accumulated over time…

        Energy and Human Evolution

  7. PaulW says:

    Hi,
    Good article, interesting comments. When I moved to South Australia 10 years ago solar (and wind) was all the rage. I considered getting solar to lower my electricity costs but I had a feeling that the generous subsidies and tariffs would not last. Without doing much research I came to the conclusion that the technology was too new and I felt it was suspect although I loved the idea of “renewable” and “energy independence” I wondered what the long term consequences would be.
    Well, now we know (for South Australia at least) – electricity prices have soared for normal (non renewable users) and because of the “low quality” electricity the biggest miner here (Rio Tinto) threatened to shut its business because the KWH price spiked too such an extent (some huge increase can’t remember exactly) – the state had to use emergency measures (gas turbines electric stations I think) on intermittent days – and yet they are closing the coal fired station at Whyalla???? You couldn’t make it up. Anyway, now they are talking about expanding the “state inter-connector” so that we can draw from other states on low renewable days. We now have the highest electric and gas prices in Australia (and water after building desalination plant that is moth-balled because it is not used). Have these people got s*** for brains? My next job today is to pay my $440 quarterly electric bill. More and more people here are being cut off for non payment. This is what they want. Only the privileged will be able to afford to live……the rest will be debt slaves back to the stone age. Anyway, Gail, look at South Australia a brilliant study in human stupidity. As Einstein said, “the only two things that are infinite are the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former”.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      This is yet another example of how people who base their decisions on Koombaya get hammered by facts and logic.

      Attention Koombaya Singers…. Kool-Aid Drinkers and Hopium Sniffers….. here are the consequences of ignoring reality… giant solar debacles across the world.

      Who are these idiots officials who make these decisions? Did the Germans not realize that the sun does not always shine? Likewise in Australia…

      What were they thinking — could it have been ‘ah not a problem – we will go without electricity at those times….’

      Surely even a 6 year old could have figured out that intermittent power means operating two generating systems — that this would drive costs up dramatically.

      Seriously — WTF?

      I have not heard of any of these fools heads rolling…. no doubt they refuse to accept that they *&^ed up … and they continue to sit at the organic coffee shop sipping low fat lattes and complaining about global warming … and thinking up new stupid ideas to drive their nations into bankruptcy…

      • Rousseau says:

        Seriously, FE, you are among the most venal hypocrites imaginable.

        Judgment Day is at hand.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          +++++++++

          I’m Lovin It! when my posts elicit an explosion of vitriol and insults…. I am right now rejoicing as I read your comments….

          I am sure you are thinking — Fast Eddy is crazy — he likes to be insulted?

          The thing is….. when someone resorts to this sort of base behaviour…. it is like saying ‘Fast Eddy – you are absolutely right — I am completely wrong — but rather than admit I am wrong — I will insult you’

          Bravo…. BRAVO! Encore….

          https://stayfreshentgroupdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/lighters.jpg

    • Christian says:

      “Only the privileged will be able to afford to live……the rest will be debt slaves back to the stone age”

      Just like that. Perhaps we’d found near collapse better, but it will be long, long, long

      • Tim Groves says:

        We never really left the stone age.
        We use more stone these days than at any time in history or pre-history.
        Mostly we grind it up to make gravel or cement.
        The builders of the Pyramids, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu have nothing on us.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ++++++

        • Christian says:

          Right, we just added more materials/complexity. And look at Inca’s megalithic fortresses, you can’t insert a needle between two 3 tons perfectly shaped rocks. Those neolithic craftmen were muy more skillful than us

          • CTG says:

            Concrete has a short lifespan. I have finished this book a few years back – https://www.amazon.com/Concrete-Planet-Fascinating-Man-Made-Material/dp/1616144815

            After reading this, you will realize that how short-size homo sapiens are.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Sadly not on Audible…

            • Ert says:

              Do you mean concrete with rebar or concrete in general?

            • “Do you mean concrete with rebar or concrete in general?”

              I don’t think the rebar is the issue. I think whether or not the concrete is waterproof is the big factor in longevity. The Mayans and Romans both made waterproof cements, and there are structures over a thousand years old that remain intact. Not as good as interlocking granite blocks, however.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Do you mean concrete with rebar or concrete in general?”

              Practices have changed in the last ten or 20 years. Look into epoxy-coated rebar.

            • CTG says:

              concrete with rebar. The rebar expanded when corrosion sets in, thus, destroying the whole structure. Without the rebar, concrete is liquid rock. However, which building or structure do we have that has not rebar?

            • “concrete with rebar. The rebar expanded when corrosion sets in, thus, destroying the whole structure. ”

              The trick, as the ancient Greeks figured out, is to plate the iron with lead. Probably against a million environmental regulations, even though the lead seems to stay inside the building for thousands of years no problem.

            • Ert says:

              However, which building or structure do we have that has not rebar?

              Some old (ancient) roman stuff probably 🙂

              Its with all shortcuts…. there are certain drawbacks…. and today I have the feeling that everyone does things in a way that the problems are thought to be passed down the line or the next greater fool.

            • the Pantheon in Rome—google it

              Concrete roof, still standing after 2000 years.

              You walk in there and words become superfluous.

            • Ert says:

              @hkeithson

              “Practices have changed in the last ten or 20 years. Look into epoxy-coated rebar.”

              All building projects I#ve passt in the last years have used pre-rusted rebar (brown, oxidized “rust” cover)… and as I unserstand the coated rebar is much more expensive… who cares? After 20 years the building is sold to the next investor… if the developer doesn’t do it earlier.

              Sinfce basically no one build for a hundred years… nothing matter… expect some shaved of “costs” NOW 😉

        • “The builders of the Pyramids, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu have nothing on us.”

          If Quantity > Quality, then sure. I wonder how much modern stuff will leave ruins 4000 years from now.

    • PaulW says:

      Hi,
      Am I becoming a conspiracy nut? I increasingly wonder if this is all done on purpose or if we have reached maximum stupidity? There must be some smart people around who have figured out that exponential growth on a finite planet is impossible. These smart people would know that the only way forward is to control populations and lower living standards for the many but keep a few places on the gravy train for the elite. As such all these modern agenda’s – Global warming, cultural Marxism (divide and rule), disintegration of community and family, globalism, centralization of power, death of freedom and concentration of wealth by bankster scum fit the agenda perfectly. Am I a conspiracy nut? Don’t know but as a Senior Chemist (industrial) who has been unemployed for 10 years I have prepared myself as best I can – no mortgage, cash and PM. Got my pension out the UK last year and was the first expat to fight and win against HMRC.gov. to extract my pension. Saved myself 150k by transferring pension before Brexit. Not bad for someone who has no idea about finances and is risk averse. Am I a conspiracy nut job? Don’t know but I read alternative media and every step I have taken so far (operating on gut instinct) has been right (so far). My gut tells me that it is going to be bad….very bad….and coming soon. So, wish you all the best….and this “too old” (56) who has been raging and ranting at the world hopes that you will all be OK. Don’t want to see anyone suffering.

      • be reassured—that everyone at every level (except for jesusfreaks and other oddballs) is aware that infinite growth is impossible.They are addicted to hopium, while denying they are, just like the rest of us.

        The billionaire industrialist or national leader must repeat the mantra—that %growth will go on into infinity.—even though they know it can’t.
        If you can’t dig your growth factor out of your own ground, you must acquire someone else’s.

        If they didn’t their lives would disintegrate.

        So we all pretend to admire the emperor’s new clothes, (as well as our own) and hope against hope that it’s someone else who gets left nekkid.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          That is where the concept of thorium and solar panels and mining asteroids comes in…..

          It soothes the animal… much as stroking a stricken dog’s head will calm him….

      • Fast Eddy says:

        ‘There must be some smart people around who have figured out that exponential growth on a finite planet is impossible. These smart people would know that the only way forward is to control populations and lower living standards’

        There are smart people who understand the situation – many of them are employed by the central banks and are working furiously to keep BAU from collapsing….

        These smart people also understand that the only way forward is to ensure the population grows…. because that contributes to economic growth …. they also understand that we must burn more carbon every year than the last… because carbon burning and economy growth are 1:1 correlated.

        They also understand that we cannot lower living standards. That would lead to a deflationary death spiral/.

        See http://www.endofmore.com/?p=1464

        • Yorchichan says:

          “These smart people also understand that the only way forward is to ensure the population grows…. because that contributes to economic growth

          Is that really the case (the italics) when resources are already being extracted at a maximum rate? Is it not better to have the resources shared between fewer people so that those people can afford the outputs of BAU rather than having a greater number of poorer people among whom nobody is able to afford anything?

          Just asking. I don’t know the answer myself.

          • More people does tend to go hand in hand with more resource extraction. Of course, in some timeframes, this may mean cutting down the trees to have enough energy to keep people from starving and freezing. I expect this tendency adds to the pressure to have a very “pointed” collapse, not a Hubbert curve.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘when resources are already being extracted at a maximum rate?’

            What is the maximum rate? Was it the rate of extraction while China was pouring more concrete in a few years than the States did in a century? Is the the rate now?

            I would suggest that there is no maximum rate — all that matters is that next year we extract and use more resources than the year before …. because if we do not then we are not growing… and not growing results in the end of more http://www.endofmore.com/?p=1464

      • There always seems to be hope that somehow, “Technology will save us.” We have gotten through bad times before (wars, for example), and things turned out all right. If we discovered penicillin, certainly we can figure out a way around this problem. Except hat the problem is much more intractable.

        • sheilach2 says:

          This time it’s very very different, we didn’t have 7.5 billion humans alive, we didn’t have such poor remaining resources, we didn’t have so many people who believed in things that are impossible like high tech “renewable” energy devices that can take over for oil, people actually believe we can just stop using oil & continue on as is with “clean, green” energy!
          They are in for a very rude awakening!
          We seem to be caught in anvils of disasters coming at us from all sides, the foundation is overpopulation, then declining resources, pollution, rising greenhouse gases that may have already set off a run away greenhouse we can no longer control that will collapse our agricultural systems resulting in the migration of billions of desperate people followed by chaos.
          I see no way we can transition smoothly into a lower energy living arrangement with 7.5 billion people & the kind of “leadership” we have been getting.
          If climate change gets as bad as some climate experts believe, we are cooked as a species.
          As Kevin Hester likes to say, “brace for impact!”

      • Tim Groves says:

        ++++++++

        You may well be a conspiracy nut, but I wouldn’t worry about that. Absolutely all the best people these days are.

      • Tango Oscar says:

        I’m sorry but exactly what part about the CO2 skyrocketing and oceans rapidly warming is a global agenda? And you claim to be a chemist at that, lmfao.

    • Thanks for Writing. Part of then problem is that the generous solar and wind subsidies and intermittent nature of these resources makes rates too low for coal producers. It also makes rates too low for other “usual” energy producers. This is why electricity from coal is closing–smart planning! Other places aren’t quite as far along as South Australia in this regard.

      Putting in the long-distance transmission wires is expensive. It likely will increase rates for a wider area. Whether or not it will reduce rates for you remains to be seen. The longer transmission lines will lead to more line loss as well.

      Graham Palmer wrote a book called “Energy in Australia” that talks about the stupidity of solar PV, but explains it in such fancy terms that only a close reader will figure out what he is saying. In his final chapter, he could have pointed out these issues, but didn’t–perhaps he was concerned that what he was saying would be perceived as being too negative by someone–the publisher (Springer) or reviewers.

      Image from Energy in Australia

      As far as I can tell, the calculation does not include the energy used in making and operating the inverter. The result would be even worse, if this were included.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        There was a comment re: how solar helps us slow the burning of fossil fuels…

        As we can see solar is basically a battery — we burn a tonne of fossil fuels to make the battery… and we get slightly more than a tonne worth of energy from the battery over 30 years…

        That assumes a 30 year life span —- no bloody way a solar system will last 30 years…

        So we are going to get less energy out than we put in.

        Which of course means that adopting solar power will accelerate the burning of fossil fuels…. it adds a huge drag to growth… and it will exacerbate AGW …

        In short — the reality of solar energy is the total opposite of what most people believe it is.

        And anyone working in the renewable energy industry needs to understand that they are complicit in ruining the planet….

        Ethically a job in this industry would rank right up there with tobacco sales person.

        • Froggman says:

          Yes, this is a concept I’ve integrated into my thinking fairly recently. I’ve concluded we’ll see even more resources and effort pouring into renewables, probably first under subsidized market economics and later in command economy format. It’s really a win-win for TPTB: creating much needed demand for fossil fuels in the midst of demand destruction, while at the same time addressing the political and cultural calls to “do something.”

          • psile says:

            Totally delusional…

            There is no need for more fossil fuels, because customers are broke. They’ve been so far a long time. Which is the reason for all the money printing and other “high finance” shenanigans over the past 8 years – to stop the bottom from finally falling out of the bag. That’s why the price of oil is where it is right now – because peeps are BROKE. Actually, it should be far lower, if not for all the central bank manipulation.

        • Solar is a battery that is very expensive to build, and may not function very long. It is a little like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter, and getting fewer back in the end than were put in. It is made using fossil fuels, and financed using debt.

  8. Pingback: Internalizing Externalities: Why Wind and Solar Can’t Replace Petroleum – The Dystopian Reader

  9. Yoshua says:

    The Houthis in Yemen (who are supported by Iran) have now targeted Saudi ARAMCO facilities with ballistic missiles twice within a week. The situation in the Middle East doesn’t seem to get any better, on the contrary, the situation seems to be getting worse. The Middle East is perhaps not in a total collapse, but some nations in the region seems to be collapsing faster than others.

    A total collapse of the region into an all out war which would end the flow of oil from the region might not lead to a total collapse of the global economy, but it would at least lead to sever damage of the global system.

    • Ed says:

      Good maneuver warfare, hit the soft underbelly.

    • You are right. We depend on the Middle East for a lot of oil. If things get a lot worse there, we have a problem.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        The middle east can be go up in flames… riots… chaos….. we already have seen such a situation in Iraq….

        Did that affect the oil fields?

        Nope.

        Entire countries could descend into total mayhem — and the US military could continue to easily defend oil production facilities….

        The opposition that they face would be nothing more than an armed rabble…. that would be incinerated if they were to come anywhere near critical facilities.

        ISIS is no threat whatsoever. It is a relatively small organization that could be destroyed easily if the US took the gloves off and decided to deal with it. In reality what damage does ISIS inflict? They cut a few heads off here and there…. they have only small arms…. they are not a potent military force….

        Of course it is a US creation … a foreign policy tool…

        Recall Rumsfeld or was it Cheney stating some years ago that these terrorists are no real threat… that they were expected blow-back from US policies in the ME….

        He was right — they are nothing. They are a flea on the elephants back.

        The oil will continue to flow out of the middle east…. no matter what. If necessary the US would destroy the entire region except for oil production facilities….

        There is too much at stake.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Very perceptive comments.

          Reminds me of a scene from Three Days of the Condor:

          Do we have plans to invade the Middle East?

          Are you crazy?

          Am l?
          Look, Turner– Do we have plans?

          No. Absolutely not.
          We have games. That’s all.
          We play games– What if?
          How many men?
          What would it take?

          Is there a cheaper way to destabilize a regime?

          That’s what we’re paid to do.

          Walk on.

          Go on.

          So Atwood just took the games too seriously.

          He was really going to do it, wasn’t he? A renegade operation.

          Atwood knew they would never authorize it, not with the heat on the company.

          What if there hadn’t been any heat?
          Suppose I hadn’t stumbled on their plan?

          Different ballgame.
          Fact is, there was nothing wrong with the plan.
          The plan was all right. The plan would’ve worked.

          Boy, what is it with you people?
          You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

          No. It’s simple economics.

          Today it’s oil, right?

          In or years– food, plutonium, and maybe even sooner.

          What do you think the people are going to want us to do then?

          Ask them.

          Now now. Then. Ask them when they’re running out.
          Ask them when there’s no heat and they’re cold.
          Ask them when their engines stop.
          Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry.
          Want to know something?
          They won’t want us to ask them.
          They’ll want us to get it for them.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Ask them.

            Now now. Then. Ask them when they’re running out.
            Ask them when there’s no heat and they’re cold.
            Ask them when their engines stop.
            Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry.
            Want to know something?
            They won’t want us to ask them.
            They’ll want us to get it for them.

            Every Koomayaista out there — needs to read that a few times… and think about it… that is a great truth.

            We live as we do in the affluent countries — because we have won – we have defeated – we have taken — in a world where there is not enough to go around – a world that is adding 90 million people per year – a world where those we have taken from would gladly slit our throats and take what we have for themselves.

  10. Ed says:

    Solar serves the oil industry.

    GlassPoint Empowers Oman’s Young Talent During Summer Internship Program

    MUSCAT, Oman
    September 1, 2016
    GlassPoint Solar’s Muscat office recently bid a fond farewell to its group of summer interns. The program provided talented Omani students with firsthand experience in a global work environment and an opportunity to learn from GlassPoint’s team of international experts.

    Five university students from environmental, accounting, and a range of engineering disciplines, were able to gain valuable knowledge about GlassPoint’s innovative solar technology and be a part of its historical project Miraah, which is being built with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

    Hani Al Khusaibi, GlassPoint’s Human Resources Manager, Middle East, said, “GlassPoint is committed to supporting the development of Oman’s next generation of innovators by providing unique opportunities to develop their technical and interpersonal skills. We welcome the Sultanate’s future engineers and thought leaders to the world of solar and are excited to provide them with a glimpse of what life is like when renewable and conventional energy work together.”

    Wasan Al Mamari, a Civil Engineering student at Sultan Qaboos University, found it particularly rewarding. She said, “I applied for the internship because I wanted to learn about something that would have a major impact on the future of oil production. GlassPoint was the perfect fit, and I was lucky enough to spend time in multiple departments, working with many expert engineers.”

    “The biggest learning for me was understanding what my life as an engineer will entail and this can’t be taught at college alone,” said Alhussain Al Busaidi, from the Higher College of Technology in Muscat. Interns Lujaina Al Balushi and Mundhir Al Wardi agreed with this sentiment, and said that the internship added tremendous value to their knowledge and skillsets.

    Intern Reem Al Aufi, an Environmental Engineering major at the German University of Technology, commented on the program, saying, “I wanted to learn more about the different contributions I could make to directly help the environment and GlassPoint offered me this chance.”

    GlassPoint is committed to hiring and developing Omani youth to help achieve its vision of creating a world-class solar industry in Oman. The company’s goal is to develop greater expertise across solar technology innovation, project deployment and other support services. These skills will help diversify the economy and create a positive long-term impact on Oman and its people.

    About GlassPoint Solar
    GlassPoint Solar is the leading supplier of solar to the oil and gas industry. The global oil and gas industry consumes an amount of energy equal to 10% of its own production, making it one of the biggest markets for renewable energy. Operating worldwide from the Middle East to California, GlassPoint’s enclosed trough technology delivers the lowest cost energy to power oilfield operations. By harnessing sunshine, instead of burning natural gas or other fuels, GlassPoint helps oil producers reduce operating expenses while significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

    GlassPoint is one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the world with more than than one gigawatt of solar oilfield projects under construction. The World Economic Forum recently recognized GlassPoint as a 2016 Technology Pioneer for its role in enabling more economical and sustainable oil production.

    GlassPoint established its regional headquarters in the Sultanate of Oman in early 2012. The company’s major shareholders include Royal Dutch Shell and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), the largest sovereign wealth fund in Oman. For more information, visit GlassPoint.com.

    GlassPoint Solar Muscat, LLC | PO Box 1501, PC 114
    Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
    GlassPoint.com | info@GlassPoint.com

    Copyright © 2016 GlassPoint Solar, Inc., All rights reserved.

    • Ert says:

      I found this interesting: “The global oil and gas industry consumes an amount of energy equal to 10% of its own production”

      EROEI <10 then… big time… as this is only energy.. not other resources and probably not the energy as delivered to the customer…

      Somehow I have the feeling that some ETPeee-Model may not as far of than many think. At least it skips standard EROEI calculating methods that do net include so many things…

    • Ert says:

      I found this interesting: “The global oil and gas industry consumes an amount of energy equal to 10% of its own production”

      EROEI <10 then… big time… as this is only energy.. not other resources and probably not the energy as delivered to the customer…

      • saudi consumes about a third of its own production just to stay alive in their desrt kingdom

        • Christian says:

          Just to stay alive… If you include air conditioning open galleries…

        • I looked at the latest BP numbers to see what I could see. In 2014 and 2015, Saudi Arabia consumed nearly 40% of the energy resources they produced. This amounted to 100% of the natural gas they produced, and nearly 30% of the oil they produced.

          This is what they produced in 2015:

          Oil 568.5 Million tons oil equivalent
          Natural Gas 95.8 MTOE
          Renewables 0.1 MTOE

          Total Production 664.4 MTOE

          Total consumed was divided as follows:

          Oil 168.1
          Natural Gas 95.8
          Renewables 0.1

          Total Consumption 264.0

          • thanks Gail—that’s brought me up to date

            That proportion is constantly increasing too, practically no one grasps the importance of their closing vice

          • CTG says:

            Jeffrey Brown’s ELM – Export Land Model.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_Land_Model

            Theory ahead of its time. He was ridiculed in some sites. I think he has “disappeared” from the peak oil scene. Have not seen his writings for some time…

            • When oil prices are low, then his theory doesn’t work as well for countries that have economies that do other things than produce oil. For example, Russia’s, Venezuela’s, Iran’s, and Canada’s own use of oil are all down in 2015, even though they are all oil exporters. Also, our problem now is an oversupply of exports, not an undersupply of exports.

              Jeffery Brown is still around and commenting on one Googlegroup that I am on. He generally talks about other topics than Export Land Model.

  11. I received the message below from someone who’s been on a trip to the island of Kauai (to the west of Oahu, in Hawaii), & to Honolulu.
    In 2014, Kauai was making a big push to run their power grid completely off “renewable energy” (mainly solar PV) — according to the graph about Hawaiian electricity generation in Gail’s post , it doesn’t look like Hawaii-as-a-test-case-for-renewables is getting much of anywhere.
    I don’t know of anywhere on Earth where they’ve gotten the power grid functioning even mainly on “renewable energy” — and, they’d have to do much more than that, to make the whole system work with it (Kauai was, of course, importing the batteries, solar panels, etc.); and, you’ve also got to power the ships, planes, & vehicles, plus, replace all the mainly-coal-source energy used to smelt the metals, etc.

    David,
    There is a lot of solar here in Hawaii. Much more than I’ve seen in California. The problem with regular electricity is that it costs a huge amount of money. There’s a couple that are living in an apartment that are getting a $700-$800 a month bill for electricity. There’s only the two of them. They only have a one bedroom apartment. I could not find out any additional information, but they do have solar farms on the island of Kawai [I think he means Kauai].
    Thanks

    • richard says:

      Getting the power grid running on renewable energy.
      Iceland? ~75% Hydro; ~23% Geothermal??
      There’s a bunch of other places including some that run on close to stone age technology. And some villages that are 100% solar+battery.
      BTW the excess energy in Iceland is used to make aluminium, (and bitcoin).
      Renewable electricity yes, random and intermittent, no.

    • “I don’t know of anywhere on Earth where they’ve gotten the power grid functioning even mainly on “renewable energy””

      Venezuela was running something like 65% of their electricity from their main hydro-dam. Unfortunately, the prolonged drought from the El Nino cycle left them with outages. I suspect you might mean Solar PVC and windmills, excluding hydroelectricity.

      • Hydroelectricity is in an entirely different category than wind and solar PV. When there is not a problem with droughts, it is one of the most easily regulated sources of electricity supply we have.

    • I am not sure what the question is. Is the very high electricity bill an indication of the high electricity bills when renewable energy is used to generate electricity?

      I know that there are quite a few people with their own backup battery systems, using solar power in Hawaii. This can provide a certain amount of electricity, but it would be hard to run a business operated by off-grid electricity–too little and too high priced.

      • Jarvis says:

        Earlier this year when I was in Hawaii I was told coal from Australia is one of the fuels used to generate their electrical power costing them approximately 50 cents per kWh. This price alone is enough to incentivize locals to try solar. For comparison in Canada I pay 8 cents per kWh which makes my solar battery system look pretty stupid but then again I know that grid is probably in its last decade of service!

  12. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Sungr wrote:

    Many people are hoping for wind and solar PV to transform grid electricity in a favorable way. Is this really possible? Is it really feasible for intermittent renewables to generate a large share of grid electricity? The answer increasingly looks as if it is, “No, the costs are too great, and the return on investment […]”

    How would anyone operate a factory using low-quality, random, intermittent electricity? How would the employees even know when to show up for work? Would employees have to live on site to use any electricity whenever available? How would that be paid for? Would the employees be paid during power outages? If so, from what revenue stream?

    Would in-process work be ruined? Would scrap and rework rates and costs soar?

    Sudden power outages may be very dangerous. How many employees might be killed annually due to sudden power outages? Will that be socially acceptable or will workers revolt?

    Computerized equipment may have to reinitialize and recalibrate after power outages. Sudden spikes may damage equipment. Rapid power cycling may damage equipment. Are factories equipped for low quality electricity supplies?

    • Sungr says:

      Some good thinking. But I am not the author…..

      In the case of a factory operation which is forced to accomodate less than reliable renewable supplies. Probably the human labor force would be tasked to perform more and more of the operations, substituting human toil and ingenuity for the boundless energy paramters of our present FF system. Of course, the going gets harder and harder as more and more standardized tasks are not possible and supply lines dwindle or collapse all together.

      Under collapse circumstances, the former factory employees might be ecstatic to be kept on the meager payroll just to have the barest remants of a regular job and access to a dwindling supply of industrial products. And they may battle each other for these jobs.

      After all, specialized jobs in an energy saturated society are all they know how to do by this point.

    • Don says:

      Gregg,
      I get the intermittancy shortcomings of electricity, but is that what makes it low quality electricity? My very small solar setup uses a pure sine wave inverter which I thought made my AC output identical to commercial grade electricity suitable for electronics. Maybe I am mistaken here.

      • CTG says:

        Unless you work in a manufacturing facility before, you will not know about this. Any form of manufacturing-related machine needs a consistent voltage or current. If there is a spike (just milliseconds), it will cause the machine to trip and takes a long time or expensive (change parts) to start up. Some parts needs to be change each time there is an electrical trip and these parts may be manufactured on the other side of the globe. You cannot fabricate them as you don’t know the contents/materials or IP (i.e. programs in the chips or integrated circuits).

        I worked in manufacturing facility and we are very sensitive to light flickering. Even I out of that field, I still look out to the lights when there is a small flicker. This small flicker caused so much headache (I am an engineer) for my team over the years.

      • Jarvis says:

        Don I have one of those modified sine wave inverters and my electric motors don’t like it. A 1 hp electric motor that should theoretically use 746 watts uses close to 1500 watts.
        I can tell you it does not compare to grid supplied AC current

      • Intermittency is part of what makes electricity low quality.

        Also, the inverter doesn’t do the full job of conversion under the best of circumstances. The biggest issue is something called reactive power. I understand that reactive power was the reason for the 2003 North American blackout.
        This is an article talking about Reactive Power:
        http://www.sma.de/en/partners/knowledgebase/sma-shifts-the-phase.html

        This is an article talking about some of the changes needed to upgrade inverters.
        http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/next-generation-grid-connected-inverter-controls-and-capabilities

        There is also something called Phase Imbalance.

        There is also an issue of how fast changes in output ramp up and down. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/64093.pdf

        The Wikipedia article about solar PV lists these issues with respect to grid connection:

        Grid-connected PV can cause issues with voltage regulation. The traditional grid operates under the assumption of one-way, or radial, flow. But electricity injected into the grid increases voltage, and can drive levels outside the acceptable bandwidth of ±5%.[8] http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/hpsp_grid_workshop_2012_steffel_pepco.pdf

        Grid-connected PV can compromise power quality. PV’s intermittent nature means rapid changes in voltage. This not only wears out voltage regulators due to frequent adjusting, but also can result in voltage flicker.[9] https://mitei.mit.edu/system/files/Electric_Grid_5_Impact_Distributed_Generation_Electric_Vehicles.pdf
        Connecting to the grid poses many protection-related challenges. In addition to islanding, as mentioned above, too high levels of grid-connected PV result in problems like relay desensitization, nuisance tripping, interference with automatic reclosers, and ferroresonance.[10] http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1709551

        Sorry–I am not personally an expert on this. I know that there are a bunch of things that go wrong.

    • You can pump water with intermittent energy, and you can do desalination of water supply with intermittent electricity. But most things you very definitely need electricity always on, and always doing exactly what it is supposed to do, or there is a problem. You are right in intermittent electricity not working for most things.

      In my brief visit to India, the house I saw with intermittent electricity had no refrigerator, because it made no sense to refrigerate food part of the time. It did have a television set, however, and a pedal (non-electric) sewing machine.

    • meliorismnow says:

      This is all pretty silly. In comparison to manufacturing equipment, power buffering and line conditioning equipment is cheap (and the latter is already nearly ubiqitous). Whether that means enough of a battery system to cover 10 min or 6 hours of operations would depend on the application. High energy operations within the plant could be restricted to high availability times and those outputs could be stored and processed/utilized/integrated in low availability times. If our society can continue to provide high quality weather services, such availability can be predicted very accurately 12-24 hours in advance. This is sufficient to notify supplementary workers whether they are wanted.

      Some applications that require high levels of energy and cannot tolerate long periods of low availability will be in places of high availability like near geothermal or hydro plants. They generally are there currently because of the cheap energy anyway. Even these consumers could be engineered to be much smarter with electricity (for instance, a steel furnace could maintain temp with much lower energy needs than to smelt ore and form steel).

      What our society needs is time to re-orient demand and this happens best without government intervention on the supply side. Instead society should ramp up taxes on use, starting with pollution taxes (and perhaps CO2 taxes) and then eventually adding in nonrenewable depletion taxes. If the US government announced electricity and gas/diesel prices in most of the country were set to triple over the next 15 years (like Germany achieved in half the time), both businesses and residents would start to improve efficiency, reduce usage, and build out infrastructure needed to deal with cheap but intermittent power sources. Niagara falls (on both sides of the border) would not operate as a regular producer of energy but as a giant battery, providing six months of (high value) backup for their customers, who get their other six months worth of energy from intermittent sources. The same would be true of the NW and the area surrounding Hoover Dam. There’s no reason why solar farms couldn’t operate in the desert all along those HVDC lines with the dam adjusting as backup.

      So what about other parts of the country without access to hydro? Those with nuclear will be fine because already built nuclear has a very low operating profile (so taxes consist mostly of the dirtyness of uranium extraction). Other locations will lose some manufacturing and populations that cannot otherwise adapt, even as more capable grids connect and sell them electricity (at high profit) when their renewable sources are operating at nadir. Here though, smart grids, electric cars, and localized RE will flourish. People will opt for more HVAC when it’s cheap and less when it’s expensive (we’re talking 5c/kwh for utility scale RE vs 15c/kwh NG and 30c/kwh coal). Their EVs will arbitrage as well and can even supply some energy to households or the grid when expensive enough. Fleets of autonomous EVs will effectively shave peaks and troughs with simple charging stations co-located with solar&wind farms or at least HVDC substations. Deliveries (whether EV trucks/rail/cars) can also be time-shifted, but so can almost all economic activity. People will visit relatives 200mi away when they have excess cheap energy to burn.

      Tax credits and other current subsidies for renewables can be removed once externalities are internalized. If we want, we can use revenues to support financing of renewable, smart grid systems, EVs, bicycle paths, and transit to accelerate the transition that would happen anyway. But, assuming we have 30+ years of BAU-lite to transform, I would rather not subsidize them at all and instead use the revenues to pare down debt (along with reductions if gov’t in general).

      Obviously we’re talking significant changes in our way of life, particularly much less energy consumed per capital and a deflationary spiral with lots of uncertainty during the unwinding. But this is already baked into the cake and if we are to have any hope in overcoming it we must start ASAP.

      • one quote if i may from above:
        ……..If the US government announced electricity and gas/diesel prices in most of the country were set to triple over the next 15 years……..

        that would see that government out of office in very short order

        the points you make are laudable and worthwhile.
        unfortunately untill a dictator comes to power, it is all wish politics, wish economics and wish science.

        and when a dictator does take control, the entire system will be in such chaos that nothing will get done anyway.

      • Artleads says:

        I was following you avidly up until this point, where you lost me:

        “There’s no reason why solar farms couldn’t operate in the desert all along those HVDC lines with the dam adjusting as backup.”

        But I don’t mind the ending:

        “Obviously we’re talking significant changes in our way of life, particularly much less energy consumed per capital and a deflationary spiral with lots of uncertainty during the unwinding.”

        And there’s probably a long string of effects tied to deflation that I don’t understand.

      • CTG says:

        meliorismnow, can I know if you have worked in a factory or involved in any engineering or other manufacturing facilities before? Do you have any hands-on experience in this area?

  13. Sungr says:

    Nicole Foss has authored a new article at the Automatic Earth. She is addressing financial aspects of collapse and the consequences of negative interest rates etc.

    Nicole Foss:

    “As we saw in 2008, the transition from embracing risky prospects to avoiding them like the plague can be very rapid, changing the rules of the game very abruptly. ”

    “in 2008, when interbank lending seized up due to the collapse of confidence in the banking sector. We have not seen this happen again yet, but it inevitably will as crisis conditions resume, and when it does it will illustrate vividly the limits of central bank power to control financial parameters. At that point, interest rates are very likely to spike in practice, with banks not trusting each other to repay even very short term loans, since they know what toxic debt is on their own books and rationally assume their potential counterparties are no better. ”

    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2016/09/negative-interest-rates-and-the-war-on-cash-1/

  14. CTG says:

    There is one point that Gail made many times but they were missed out. In fact, I did it on page 3 but it was missed out with no one commenting on it. It is a very critical point that she made and I fully agree with her.

    QUALITY OF ENERGY.

    Many commenters, especially those from MSM-type thinking always use “equivalent” energy and that is a very wrong way to do calculations. That was one of the question that I posed to arnholloway (page 6) –

    ” Arn, does your power from solar panels will be used to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and combined with H2 (electrolysed from water) to form the oil that will be used to power the aeroplanes? You need planes in BAU, no questions asked. What does BAU stands for ? Business As Usual. There can never be a solar plane or any planes that is powered by batteries.

    Let us say I use a lot of energy for my heating/cooling/transport/beauty/etc and the equivalent that I use is about 50,000 energy slaves working day and night for me. They is an EQUIVALENT.

    If I have 50,000 energy slaves right now; at this present moment in time, will that help me in anything? What am I going to with the 50,000 people sitting in my backyard? How are they going to help me in my flight from Singapore to Hong Kong? There is just simply NO WAY these 50,000 people will do to help me fly. If I need farm hands, these 50,000 will help me work the farms, the mines, they can fan me but can get me to 10C in a warm summer day? No matter how much they fan me, it will never go down to 10C. However, with BAU, I just step into an industrial freezer, I will get to -10C if I want to. So, how would these energy slaves do to get me to 10C? No way. Same as flights, how are they going to get me flying in the air? Throw me up in the air?

    “Equivalent energy” is pure propaganda.

    Exactly, when the proponents of renewable energy calculates, they use equivalent energy. So, my point to arnholloway (see above) is that if you have all the “equivalent energy” installed using the best and most efficient wind turbine and PVs, how are you going to get me flying? How are you going to get me the Vaseline (petroleum jelly) that I use on my face? Does your “equivalent energy” from PV, wind turbine, thorium, space-based electricity help me ? how? energy-equivalent? So I use my “petroleum jelly”-equivalent cream on my face? (I am a guy not a lady by the way!)

    So, are you going to go through the super in-efficient way of carbon capture (from atmosphere), electrolyse the seawater to get hydrogen? How much energy do you need to do that to combine them to make hydrocarbon). Will it not be cheaper just to drill for oil (oh, it is almost gone, sorry!)

    He said that based on “equivalent energy”, we need only the size of California” to give us 12petawatts. That is why I said :

    So… how many solar panels you need now to extract the CO2 from the atmosphere, electrolyse seawater so that you can get the hydrogen to form the oil that we need? Another 2 California-sized land filled with solar panels or solar devices? We need about 30billion barrel, scratch that, with electric cars, we need 10billion barrels per year for the plastics (for making solar panels as well), medicine, fertilizes, etc.

    It is the quality of energy that is important but practically all the MSM-people just use “equivalent energy”.

    Same goes for food – you need 2000 calories per day to survive. Do you plan to eat like 2kgs of squash per day just to get the calories? Are you going to munch the whole day like a panda (incidentally they munch the whole day as bamboo has lower energy value)? So, who is going to work on the farms? You may need high energy carbohydrates or even animal fat so that you can work your heart out at the field. I doubt after 2 days of eating squash only, you will not want another squash for the next 3 weeks. Furthermore, do you have the nutrients (minerals and energy) from just eating squash every day?

    Unless we have “too cheap to meter” electricity, otherwise, most of the “experts” missed out the quality of energy; the concentration of energy; the ease of energy convertibility and the use of hydrocarbons (the molecules that we convert to form the feedstock for plastic, fertilizers, etc) in all the products that we use.

    We are, at the end of the day, a bunch of hydrocarbons and some mineral molecules. Carbon-based lifeforms.

    • This is very much related to complexity and concentrations of energy. We discovered early on that having millions of hunter-gatherers left us without much capability for doing anything very advanced. What we needed was concentrations of energy, of the right type. In other words, we needed specially trained people, working in different fields. This could only happen through specialization and a networked system connecting all of the pieces. We needed special devices that did special things, and energy that worked exactly right with those devices. We needed debt to pay for this whole system, because the theoretical benefits would come well after the special devices were built.

      EROEI calculations (or the equivalent) more or less work when there is no issue of capital devices being built, provided that differences in energy quality aren’t too great. Once we start getting into capital devices and energy quality difference, EROEI calculations can be very misleading.

      • hkeithhenson says:

        “provided that differences in energy quality aren’t too great.”

        The main energy input for building power satellites is from natural gas. A lot of NG is used to make electricity anyway. The energy payback time is around three months. if a power sat lasts 30 years, that’s more than 100 to one EROEI.

        In moving to GEO, the advantage over ground is 5 times the sunlight in the best deserts. At 1.3 kW/m^2 the energy density is still low, but the amount of material needed to capture the sunlight is about 1% compared to on the ground.

        Of course this is all tentative since not enough study has been done.

    • Zanstel says:

      No. You are trying to extrapolate a oil world into a renewable world. You can interexchange some forms of energy into another, but sometimes has a advantage and anothers has a disadvantage.
      For example, if you want the same airplains, you will need a fuel because energy density is critical on them. So you need to pay the “convert factor”. Turn electricity into fuel could be from 1:3 in some fuels like hydrogen up to 1:8 in some hydrocarbons.

      But if a airplane became 1:3 penalized (in the best scenario) in the new scheme, others like train could become a advantage because all works (or could be work) with electricity. So a great part of the airplain consumption will change to rail or another efficient alternative in the new scheme.

      The vision of “all or nothing” is wrong. Economy don’t work like that. If the prices changes you adapt to the new prices and ways of work. So the model will become more energy efficient through avoiding fossil bottlenecks as possible.

      In fact, we said that we use 12-20 TW but this are fossil fuel numbers, most of them used in engines that loose a lot of energy as rejected heat.

      The same works on a lot of things too. If home heating is more expensive, you will invest more on isolation. It will cost anyway, but insulation materials could be made on summer, when energy is cheaper and more abundant, while the maximum benefit occurs on winter. There is strategies to move “energy” from abundant moments into scarce ones because all that we do are energy in some way. Not all is about complex chemical batteries or electricity accumulation.

      The world is constantly changing and this view about “if our current way of things don’t work then the system will collapse” is flawed. If current way of things don’t work, then we will adapt and change.
      And the numbers here are normally extrapolation about current world into a renewable one with minor changes. It won’t be this way.

      • Artleads says:

        “And the numbers here are normally extrapolation about current world into a renewable one with minor changes. It won’t be this way.”

        Well spoken.

      • CTG says:

        It is good that you bring out that point but unfortunately, our JIT and supply chain does not work that way. A lot of parts, things, events or whatever has to happen quickly and they need to be transported by planes. FedEx does not work by sailboats and so are many suppliers to planes. There too many parts and service suppliers to the logistics companies, airplane companies and there are too many suppliers to these suppliers as well.

        In many countries, tourism is a major part of the economy and there are many supporting industries like hotels, laundry and the supplier supplying the industrial washing machines, etc.

        You scenario will have too many companies being shut down and too many people unemployed. I know in my place, without planes (easy and cheap access to planes), at least 30% of the people will be unemployed. With 30% unemployed, the local shops selling local products will also suffer as there will be fewer people with money to spend.

        So, how would you want to settle the employed due to high cost of flight or anything that is high cost due to shortages or substitution?

        Factories and other services/facilities are catered for economies of scale. You cannot run an oil refinery with 30% of oil being fed through as it will be too expensive or the pipes are too big for the small volume of oil.

        The hotel staff or the people who works at the travel agency cannot be working in a factory immediately. Training does not help and moreover the change will take too long.

        Any comments much appreciated. Please put in reality rather than models or theory. Thank you.

    • First, I agree, quality of energy is very different, and equivalence is pretty useless.

      However, let us try to take a look from the other side, how the technotopians view the future. The Technotopian future is the Resource Based Economy, The Venus Project. It is machines doing the work, things made locally using generic minerals that are cheap and abundant, with 3D Printing. No one travels in this future, as they can just use telepresence to experience vacations and communicate with people anywhere in the world, without leaving their home.

      Since people do not need to work, and all their needs are locally produced from local materials by automation, they don’t need cars. Their more energy efficient homes need a tiny fraction of the heating and cooling energy we need now. So each person may only need 500 watts continuous to meet their needs, or perhaps much less.

      Of course, this vision of the future is based on a few pending breakthroughs in technology, a massive change in the way people think, and collective ownership of all the resources and capital, along with a machine god or an infallible technocratic government.

    • Stefeun says:

      CTG,
      For once I don’t exactly agree with you.
      Firstly, slaves are not energy by themselves, rather converters of chemical energy (food) into mechanical energy (muscle work). Incidentally, this energy-conversion happens with a loss (waste heat).

      In my view, there are actually different types/forms of energy, as you say, each with its specific qualities and degree of concentration, but the issue is more one of conversion of one form into another, with its associated efficiency.
      Efficiency is very high (i.e. waste heat is minimal) when you go from a highly concentrated high quality energy towards a lower type, and efficiency gets very low when you try to upgrade or concentrate the energy.

      To pick up on your first example, we could imagine your 50.000 (well fed) guys growing palm-trees, extract oil from it, and work it into some kind of kerosene which could fill the tank of your plane. Likely not very efficient, but possible in theory.

      That’s why it’s very important to start from the final use you want to make of the energy, in order to determine what type of energy is most suitable to start with, and avoid as many conversions as possible (i.e. lose a minimum quantity into waste heat).

      The propaganda part in “equivalent energy” (1st law of TDs, after all!) is that they forget to tell you what percentage of this energy is lost into waste heat along the process because of all involved conversions (and, incidentally, also what amount of infrastructure, investment and resources are necessary to run the process).

      We had the incredible luck (or curse) to find huge amounts of petroleum, top-quality energy especially suitable for transportation, which itself was especially suitable to develop our civilization of commodified goods. I doubt we can maintain it (BAU relies on rotary motion, as Norman says) with any other form of energy.

      • Artleads says:

        “I doubt we can maintain it (BAU relies on rotary motion, as Norman says) with any other form of energy.”

        Because other forms of energy are less efficient and can’t produce as much?

        The questions include how efficiency relates to the Jevons paradox: the more efficiency you have, the more energy you use.

        • Stefeun says:

          Not only, Artleads,
          Petroleum is highly concentrated and stores energy under liquid form, which is very convenient for handling, use in engines, etc.. therefore ideal for transports.

          Transports are vital to our economy because of its specialization, which implies that things are produced en masse in dedicated locations, often distant to one another (even more since globalization), hence the need to move them constantly from one place to another (there may be a parallel with financial capital to be made here, but that’s another topic).

          All our infrastructure is in fact built upon the assumption of availability of such a convenient energy source, concentrated and liquid, which moreover has to be cheap. We’d have the possibility to make substitutes, but at a much higher cost; that can’t work either.

          And yes, petroleum is very “efficient”, that can explain its expansion and the total transformation of our world during the last century. I put “efficient” between quotes because efficiency is related to the way energy is used, not really to the quality of the energy source itself. For the energy source, we’d rather talk about concentration. With a highly concentrated energy form, one doesn’t even have to be very efficient to get high power in output (i.e. can afford to waste a big share of the input).

      • CTG says:

        Agree with what you have said on “slaves”. I was more towards the “big picture” that I want to put across and I use that as an example. It just want to expand on the fact that practically everyone uses “equivalent” which will be pretty much meaningless when it comes to physics and energy. I have USD1m in my bank account and it is a claim on future energy which is “equivalent” to 50 USD20,000 cars that I can buy in future or equivalent to XXX amount of YYY things or services. So, how does that work out in the future claims? again equivalents?

        • Stefeun says:

          I didn’t get the monetary aspect of your comment.
          Money is a proxy for useable energy, a promise, not genuine energy.
          Of course, your million dollars will be worthless as soon as BAU breaks up.

          • CTG says:

            Sorry. The monetary aspects are not in the original comment. I used it to explain that my first comment was more on the macro side. Maybe I put it too big and too macro.

    • you are correct in every point

      though the bit about the vaseline had us worried for a minute

  15. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Tim Groves wrote:

    “Here’s some news that should assuage all FE’s fears about those pesky spent fuel rods. ”

    “According to Asahi Shimbun: ”

    “Highly radioactive waste from the decommissioning of nuclear reactors should be buried at depths beyond 70 meters for 100,000 years, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has decided.”

    ROTFLMAO (rolling on the floor laughing my a** off). 70 meters is right in the water table in most parts of the world. That seems like a plan to thoroughly contaminate the world’s drinking water aquifers. Maybe Fast Eddy has been right all along.

    But, there is reason for hope. The molten salt thorium reactors can supposedly burn up transuranic wastes. We just need a few hundred of them to process the last ~80 years massive backlog of high level nuclear wastes.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Thorium reactors are a constant like the speed of light– always 10 years in the future.
      (ones that scale, and are commercially operable)

      • Perhaps because sodium “fast breeders” are good enough for now with the mixed oxide fuel (fresh U238, weapon grade plutonium, and spent fuel) with little waste as end product. As mentioned before, the Russians have apart from legacy research and smaller grid units also new ~ .8GWe power plant and actually building scaled up 1.2-1.6GWe designs of the same.. Mind you these are already commercial grade stuff feeding the electic grid, not experimentals.. The next step up under work for 2030-40 is in thorium fuel and or re-using spent fuel mixes with even higher content of the existing waste from old reactors..

        Now, you can ask who is knocking on their door to get the incensed version of this stuff as fast as possible, no these are not west alliance countries.. instead they are building geared windmills and importing Chinese PV panels, lolz..

        some say the west is in decay..

    • Tim Groves says:

      If you drill much deeper than 70 meters almost anywhere in Japan, you have a fair chance of hitting hot water and then you can open a spa resort. The water table is usually within a few meters of the surface and there’s plenty of rainfall to keep it replenished. If you want to bury nuclear waste, you have to worry about these things as well as volcanos and earthquakes.

      If you were in Japan’s situation, you might be smarter to wait until some other country such as the US, Australia or Mongolia opens a disposal site and then pay them to store it for you. Or even better, send it to the far side of the moon…….

      https://youtu.be/_Wr41gaM_ow

  16. CTG says:

    When collapse happen? This is a trick question. Let me just open up your mind a bit on this.

    Future historian (oxymoron!) will say that the decline of homo sapiens happens when they discover fire and within a short span of 2 million years, they disappear without a trace. If someone looks at a shorter timeline, they will say that when agriculture starts, it is the start of the extinction process of homo sapiens. That is about 20,000 from the start until extinction.

    If someone were to look at it differently, then he would say that when iron age starts as that is the time trees are gone to make iron tools and weapons. From there, about 3000 from the start to the end. That is the time when Romans fight with iron weapons.

    Looking at it differently, some will say that it started during the Renaissance age when more trees were fell and many wealthy people live beyond their means and they become greedy. 600 years from the beginning to the end.

    In a smaller perspective, some will say that it starts when people use fossil fuels like coal. So, maybe 300 years from start to end. If someone says it is the start of oil age, then it is 150 years. If someone says it is the start of Federal Reserves, then it is about 100 years. If it is Nixon’s closure of gold window, then it is about 40 years. If it is the abolishment of Glass-Steagle Act, then it is 20 years. If it is the 2008 crisis that struck a mortal blow to the entire fragile economic structure, then it is 7 years.

    So, it actually depends on how people define collapse. Yoshua commented (page 7) that collapse is relative as some countries have already collapse, some levels (strata) of society has collapsed (poor people). For me, the collapse is also “relative on the time scale”

    When we perish, do we leave a strata of “leftovers” in the soil? What do we see? Ashes only, not bones but our civilization. It would be iron rich and only probably a few milimeters thick. We have nothing to show. Concrete lasts not more than 200 years. Stones, probably more. So, can anyone take a guess what happened in that layer of 5mm thick black iron-rich ash? Why iron because we use a lot of iron (cars, rebars, etc).

    Will any “future historians” be able to conclude what happened in that 3mm thick? Will they know that it was Ben Bernake or Alan Greenspan’s work that cause the collaps or was it homo sapien’s use of fire. They will then conclude that the living organism perished along with 98% of the entire earth’s lifeform. It was another extinction event. Root cause unknown but the weather can dramatically during that time. Perhaps, it was the weather change that cause the life form to go extinct.

    “So let it be written. So let it be done.” and from there, it was known that the 6th great extinction was cause by climate change.

    We know dinosaurs dies out between 65million plus minus 1 million years. Can one tell me with 100% conviction and certainty that dinosaurs are not intelligent beings and they are the ones who wipe themselves off the planet earth? We do not have the resolution to determine if that is the case. People may say that I am a “nutcase” but give what I say a great thought. It is an eye opener for me.

    It is a matter how one can resolve the “collapse”. To me, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if it happens now or a few years down ? No. Does it really matter to earth? No. We are already at the edge of the abyss in 2008 and TPTB pulled us back but we are rushing to the cliff again. This time, there will be nothing to pull us back.

    • Artleads says:

      Interesting thoughts, CTG.

    • dinosaurs were around for 1/200 m years or so
      bacteria have been around for 2 bn years

      we’ve been around for 1m years or so, and are about to bump ourselves off

      on that basis where does supreme intellect lie?

      • Tango Oscar says:

        There’s no such thing as supreme intellect in this world. We’re all a bunch of primates doing whatever it is we think we need to in order to survive. In our case it’s exploiting technology to extract fossil fuels while offing ourselves in the process.

    • You raise good points!

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ‘We know dinosaurs dies out between 65million plus minus 1 million years. Can one tell me with 100% conviction and certainty that dinosaurs are not intelligent beings and they are the ones who wipe themselves off the planet earth?’

      Thought-provoking! An outstanding post.

    • xabier says:

      Such long perspectives on human existence as given by CTG are – I find – a strange source of rational and imaginative pleasure, although the topic is a less than happy one.

      When we go down, it will be, in a rather perverse way I admit, consoling to know the true reason: in the same way that it’s preferable to understand that a fatal illness comes from the action of a virus rather than imaging that a ‘devil’ has got into one or blaming one’s neighbour for casting a spell……

      At the same time; I often wish I didn’t know all of this!

    • Stefeun says:

      Nice perspectives
      Thanks CTG

  17. Gregg Armstrong says:

    In 2015 the United States consumed about 9.16 million barrels of gasoline per day and 2.9 million barrels of distillate fuel per day. Federal fuel taxes are 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. That’s $7.728 per barrel gasoline and $10.248 per barrel diesel.

    Not all gasoline or distillates are subject to taxation but, to make this calculation easier I’ll include all of it. In 2015 the Federal government received up to $70.788 million per day in gasoline taxes and $29.719 million per day in diesel fuel taxes. For the year that’s a total of $36.685 billion. That’s is not counting income taxes paid by energy corporations and their employees. And they do pay taxes.

    The US EIA web site has very detailed yearly statistics on Federal government subsidies and taxes received by energy type (oil, coal, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, biomass, biofuel, solar thermal, photovoltaic solar and wind). [Photovoltaic solar net subsidies are astronomical per unit of energy.]

    The fiscal year 2015 Federal budget was $3.8 trillion. So fuel taxes were not quite 1% the Federal government’s budget. It’s still a lot of money. All electric cars don’t pay any fuel taxes. In fact they and hybrids are heavily subsidized by gasoline and diesel fuel taxes!

    State and local governments also tax fuel sales. They can’t print US dollars either or (legally) run deficits making them quite dependent on fuel taxes.

    Gail is spot on when she writes that declining oil production dramatically reduce government revenues. It also reduces wages and taxes on labor income. Fuel taxes drop. Corporate income taxes drop. Subsidies for renewables skyrocket. It’s unsustainable.

  18. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Watch for the ramifications of the Hanjin Line bankruptcy. It might snowball into a major loss of trust in receiving full payments in international trade. This article by Mark St. Cyr is an interesting read.

    The Fed Fiddles While The Free Market Burns

    http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/the-fed-fiddles-while-the-free-market-burns/

  19. Tim Groves says:

    Here’s some news that should assuage all FE’s fears about those pesky spent fuel rods.

    According to Asahi Shimbun:

    Highly radioactive waste from the decommissioning of nuclear reactors should be buried at depths beyond 70 meters for 100,000 years, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has decided.

    Under the decision made Aug. 31, nuclear waste that would mainly consist of the control rods used in nuclear reactors would be buried in areas where earthquakes and volcanoes pose a minimal threat.

    Electric power companies would be responsible for managing the buried waste for periods between 300 and 400 years. The central government would then take over and restrict entry and digging in the burial sites for a period of 100,000 years.

    http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609020034.html

    Even the Fuhrer only promised a thousand-year Reich, but the Japanese nuclear regulators are assuming the continuous existence of a 100,000-year state. Feel safer now?

    • Yorchichan says:

      The spent fuel rods can’t even be moved until they have been cooled (for years) and dry casked. Can’t see this happening everywhere in a collapse scenario. Given a typical spent fuel pool contains around as much radioactivity as would be released in a full scale nuclear war, it’s hard to imagine the spent fuel pools will not result in the extinction of all higher life forms (as FE suggests).

    • Artleads says:

      “Feel safer now?”

      Not exactly. I’ll side with FE (a rare occurrence) for this one. And the above is the most extensive line of BS I’ve ever heard. I hope it was presented as a joke.

      • doomphd says:

        The Japanese authors are hung up on the long half-lives of the fuel in the rods. Hence, they throw out numbers like 100,000 years. It’s ludicrous to assume any humans or their civilizations will last that long to oversee their safe burial. The best we can hope for is a decent burial now in places where future species won’t get curious. If they do, the intense radiation exposure and toxicity will insure that they won’t continue the process.

        It’s one of the greater booby traps we humans will leave behind, certainly one of the longest lived. BTW, if you wish to visit Tokyo, if might be wise to do that sooner than later.

    • “Under the decision made Aug. 31, nuclear waste that would mainly consist of the control rods used in nuclear reactors would be buried in areas where earthquakes and volcanoes pose a minimal threat.”

      Control rods, not the fuel rods. Just a bunch of carbon-14 mostly.

    • Christian says:

      Matt, control rods are so highly exposed to radiation that (as would happen to any object under this circumstance) they start irradiating, much like the fuel rods themselves

      “The period in which electric power companies would manage the waste was set at between 300 and 400 years because a period of several tens of thousands of years is unrealistic”

      You see, this guys are PROFESSIONALS (of course, one wonders what kind of stuff would be selling those companies once they dismantle the nukes, but, hey)

      “Consideration is also being given to possible burial sites for nuclear waste with extremely high radiation levels”

      So they got it, just have to dig in Fukushima. If they continue like this they will finally get kinda safe island in the end. Indeed, strain is a good teacher

      • “control rods are so highly exposed to radiation that (as would happen to any object under this circumstance) they start irradiating, much like the fuel rods themselves”

        Sure, I suspect there is quite a lot of water, and if a plant is decommissioned, quite a lot of irradiated cement as well. My point was just that this proposal was not even for the spent fuel rods, just for control rods.

        I think the current vision is that the spent fuel will eventually be reprocessed and used. It is like hoarding a bunch of toxic chemicals in your garage, in the hopes it may one day be worth money.

        • Tim Groves says:

          I think the current vision is that the spent fuel will eventually be reprocessed and used. It is like hoarding a bunch of toxic chemicals in your garage, in the hopes it may one day be worth money.

          Yes, that’s my impression. One idea is that it can be reprocessed to form part of the initial feedstock for the next generation of even safer, even cleaner, better ‘n ever nuclear power that is on the drawing board gathering dust somewhere.

          In Japan, the Grand Design was to commercialize fast breeder reactors that created more fuel than they consumed while providing electricity that was too cheap to meter. That dream proved to be well beyond the capabilities of late 20th century technology. From memory, the Monju FBR was designed to operate in such away that it needed to be controlled about 30 times as fast as a conventional uranium reactor. Also, it produced so much heat that the core needed to be cooled using liquid sodium. Not quite Star Trek but it was computer controlled and it needed a team of Scotties watching everything carefully to stop the thing from going off bang.

          Fortunately, Monju’s cooling system sprang a leak in 1995 and filled the surrounding rooms with liquid sodium that soon cooled and became solid. I say fortunately because had the cooling system performed better, a much more dangerous malfunction could well have occurred.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘It is like hoarding a bunch of toxic chemicals in your garage, in the hopes it may one day be worth money’ 🙂

          If Tim’s venture pans out…. that lead box of spent fuel could be worth it’s weight in gold

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I can imagine control rods and pipes being buried…

      But L1 waste… the spent fuel…. I cannot imagine that can just be buried… it absolutely needs to be kept cool otherwise it blows it’s top….

  20. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Fast Eddy wrote:

    “‘15000 kcal. 6 days of food’

    Futility defined….

    I made similar stark realizations… and I now grow food only because I like growing food.”

    I’m too lazy to garden for a few thousand Calories. If I’m still alive after the collapse I’ll just go out and kill a pronghorn antelope once a week. 🙂

    • Sungr says:

      “If I’m still alive after the collapse I’ll just go out and kill a pronghorn antelope once a week. 🙂”

      I was wondering how many pounds of meat you could get off a single pronghorn? Maybe 15-20lb?

      • DJ says:

        In Sweden:
        300k elks.
        Average wt 300kg(?)
        50% meat
        1500kcal/kg meat
        Pop 10M
        Avg kcal need 2.5k/day
        = food for 2.7 days (please verify calculations)

    • DJ says:

      “I’ll just go out and kill a pronghorn antelope once a week.”

      But of course that will only work if you’re the only one doing it. Otherwise you will run out of antelopes in a month. If not before.

      • Don says:

        Also, how much of that meat can you eat in a day, maybe two, without refrigeration? Maybe you have a family to help you.

        • “Also, how much of that meat can you eat in a day, maybe two, without refrigeration? ”

          People have, for thousands of years, stored meat for months and years, without refrigeration. Salt it, smoke it, make pemmican out of it, you can even stick it in a cool, fast moving stream trapped under rocks and it will stay good for a while.

      • Sungr says:

        Pronghorn Antelopes are great fans of peak oil- when the quarrelsome ape can no longer race across the plains in 6,000lb SUVs and is back to survival hunting on foot. See here-

        “The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, being built for maximum predator evasion through running. The top speed is very hard to measure accurately and varies between individuals; it can run 35 mph for 4 mi (56 km/h for 6 km), 42 mph for 1 mi (67 km/h for 1.6 km), and 55 mph for 0.5 mi (88.5 km/h for 0.8 km).”

        “It is often cited as the second-fastest land animal, second only to the cheetah.[21] It can, however, sustain high speeds longer than cheetahs.[6] University of Idaho zoologist Compared to its body size, the pronghorn has a large windpipe, heart, and lungs to allow it to take in large amounts of air when running. Additionally, pronghorn hooves have two long, cushioned, pointed toes which help absorb shock when running at high speeds.”

        So good luck with the Antelope hunting. And you better hope that they haven’t been feeding on sage.

    • “I’m too lazy to garden for a few thousand Calories. If I’m still alive after the collapse I’ll just go out and kill a pronghorn antelope once a week. :)”

      Hopefully, there are a few trillion antelope to feed the billions of people who think the same as you.

    • It won’t be long before all of the pronghorn antelope are gone.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Or … go for the more numerous big game…. 7.4 billion targets….

  21. Ert says:

    Interesting article / analysis (On-Topic!) at Energy Matters blog (Euan Mearns): UK Wind Constraint Payments: http://euanmearns.com/uk-wind-constraint-payments/ – about the payments the UK gives to the wind producers for not putting their wind-power to the grid (because it can’t handle it).
    The total sum and percentage of the energy not being used grows bigger and bigger – and costs more and more reimbursement:

    http://www.euanmearns.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ukwindconstrained.png

    At that at the meagerly level of wind at the total electrical energy production. Sweet dreams “80” or even “100” % ‘renewable’ energy…..

    Euan closes with: “Exporting surplus wind to Europe is a fantasy, not because we don’t have sufficient interconnectivity but because when it is windy in the UK it is also likely to be windy in Europe hence there will be no demand for our surplus. Atlantic depressions are continent sized. And UK hydro is woefully under-dimensioned to have capacity to balance UK wind output. UK hydro is instead used to provide some base load and some diurnal load-following capability.

    Hence, the official narrative is simply fantastical rubbish. The reality is that on windy days in the UK wind producers are paid by you and I to not produce their heavily subsidised electricity.”

    • Thanks! Euan Mearns has a lot of good articles.

      In the one you link to, he says, ” . . .we see that problems absorbing wind onto a balanced UK grid begin at 3% penetration. Below 3%, little wind is constrained on a monthly basis, above 3% in certain circumstances, some wind is constrained. Above 6% penetration some wind is always constrained on a monthly basis.”

      It doesn’t take much wind to start causing problems in the UK. This is another example of the problems I show in my post.

  22. Gregg Armstrong says:

    FastEddy wrote:

    “Nine years ago, I published one of the first papers that tried to provide a critical analysis of the biological principles underlying the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and its potential to improve rice production.”

    Yes, in the engineering world this is the ‘unobtainium’ or FM (effin’ Magic) problem. If only we had magic. It’s also the same as trying to explain why the Laws of Thermodynamics makes you devote massive resources to capture the very diffuse energy of sunlight. Yeah, let’s cover all of Arizona and New Mexico with billions of solar panels and still require all of our conventional electrical power generation when the sun is not shining.

    Did you know that every generation, beginning prior to World War 1, we have devoted immense resources to some aspect of biofuels? Beginning with a methanol plant in the mid-West before WW 1. Ours is the fourth generation to go down that road. Unsuccessfully, I might add. It always founders on thermodynamics.

    • Ford made his first cars to run on biofuel, for the simple reason that filling stations did not exist, but any blacksmith could make a still, and a few acres set aside to grow biofuel didn’t present a problem.Hence moonshine was one of the first viable motorfuels. Diesel also ran engines on peanut oil.

      trouble is, moonshine has taken over our thinking in respect to fueling our transport systems.

  23. Gregg Armstrong says:

    hkeithhenson asked:

    “Gregg, I know it’s not likely to happen again, but you know what engineers can do if they are well supported, i.e., the Manhattan project.”

    “If the government (or several of them) decided power satellites were the way to go and went to Boeing, how long would do you think it would take for them to detail design something like Skylon and scale up to 25 a month?”

    What have you got against molten salt thorium reactors if all you want is electricity? Seems like a gargantuan waste of resources to try to get electricity beamed from satellites to ground receiving antennae.

    In my opinion, the entire idea of power satellites and the attendant very heavy lift launch requirements are realistically far beyond current human capabilities. That’s my opinion anyway.

    I made some scientific wild-assed guesses based on historic program costs, escalated to current year dollars, and I don’t think Congress would ever approve even a preliminary development program. Full scale development would never get approved. Impossible for full rate production.

    I have worked on some far out projects but this idea is orders of magnitude more far out than all of them combined. I just do not believe that the world could ever agree to fund a program like this. And it would almost have to be a world project. Even if the USA paid for it we would still need to contract with countries around the world. Managing a project like that isn’t for the timid or faint of heart.

    • Ert says:

      “What have you got against molten salt thorium reactors if all you want is electricity? Seems like a gargantuan waste of resources to try to get electricity beamed from satellites to ground receiving antennae. “

      When I looked at the picture of available options, LFTR / DFR (both thorium molten salt based) came out top. Unfortunately political and capital investment is still in intermittent “renewables”…. so much time lost….

      If this technology ever comes to be, I think it will be to late to scale the construction up to a point where it can extend the game.

      • psile says:

        These are all just pie in the sky ideas. Not only technically, but for all the other limits to growth reasons we’ve discussed in this here blog.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “how long would do you think it would take for them to detail design something like Skylon and scale up to 25 a month?”

      You didn’t answer the question. Boeing is close to half the western world’s aircraft production. If the world is building them at 50 a month, Boeing will be building half of them. Airbus has already indicated it wants the Skylon airframe design and is willing to put a lot of their own money in it.

      “What have you got against molten salt thorium reactors if all you want is electricity?”

      Nothing. But we are talking 15,000 1 GW output MSR. Politically that’s not going to be an easy sell. I wonder if anyone has worked out the EROEI for MSR? Or the project cost in cents per kWh?

      “Seems like a gargantuan waste of resources to try to get electricity beamed from satellites to ground receiving antennae.”

      If power satellites are not the lowest cost way to replace fossil fuels, then we should not build them. Show me a way that can undercut 3 cent power from space and I will work on that rather than power satellites. I did this for a year and a half on StratoSolar. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8323

      “In my opinion, the entire idea of power satellites and the attendant very heavy lift launch requirements are realistically far beyond current human capabilities. That’s my opinion anyway.”

      Is your opinion fixed? Or are you willing to look into the physics, engineering and economics? Did you look at the videos?

      “I made some scientific wild-assed guesses based on historic program costs, escalated to current year dollars, and I don’t think Congress would ever approve even a preliminary development program. Full scale development would never get approved. Impossible for full rate production.”

      The interesting thing about power satellites is that it only takes a moderate front end investment. After that, the whole thing self finances, making gobs of money as it grows. Do you know of any other self financing proposal that will get humanity off fossil fuels?

  24. Crates says:

    Hkeithheson,
    I answered to his message on the question of returns, but debit of being stopped in the tray. I am going to be several days without connection to Internet.
    Enjoy in OFW!

  25. Pingback: Intermittent Renewables Can’t Favorably Transform Grid Electricity - Deflation Market

  26. Gregg Armstrong says:

    Wind power can be used to pump water back up to the reservoir as a cheap form of storage given sufficient water levels downstream. Colocating wind power and hydropower might make a lot of sense respecting storage. Otherwise storage costs are prohibitive.

    • Don says:

      Unless a practical energy storage method is devised, there’s really not much point to solar panels or wind turbines. The reservoir plan has special needs to work. Proximity to water, space and a elevation differential are difficult requirements to meet generally speaking.

      • Gregg Armstrong says:

        Colocating wind farms with existing hydropower installations makes sense. But, drought conditions at a place like Lake Mead would negate the benefits of pumping water back up to the reservoir. There are no easy or simple solutions.

        • hkeithhenson says:

          “There are no easy or simple solutions.”

          Dead on correct.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Don’t forget…. ‘there are many problems for which there will never be solutions’

            We are facing one of them….

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “Don’t forget…. ‘there are many problems for which there will never be solutions’

              We are facing one of them…”

              That strikes me as a bit arrogant. How can you be so sure about the future?

            • there may well be something in our future that will power our way to a prosperous infinity.

              problem is, we live in our here and now, and our needs are here and now.

              which means that whatever is out there, as yet unimagined and uninvented, has to manifest itself pretty damned quick—like in less than the next 20 years.

              Stop to think just what that means—I repeat: we have to invent something we don’t even know exists, or even can exist except to hopium addicts, and then power it out across the industrial function of the globe, all by the use of an old industrial powerbase that is itself grinding to a halt over the same time period.

              Now—instead of—we must do that, or “they” must/will do the other, or other irrational nonsenses, would anyone care to point out the error of my doomerizing?

              Short of JC springing a surprise return visit on us all, or 6 billion righteous souls getting raptured and leaving us sinners to pick up the pieces, I cannot see any way forward.But I might just have missed something that someone will no doubt point out shortly.—But please, logic and rationality only—immigrants from Delusistan must pray in their own temples.

            • hkeithhenson says:

              “there may well be something in our future that will power our way to a prosperous infinity.”

              Long range I am *much* more pessimistic about the biological future of the human race than Fast Eddy. Post singularity I don’t expect there to be any biological humans left, on the other hand, the extinction does not need to kill anyone. I developed this in some detail in “The Clinic Seed.”

              “problem is, we live in our here and now, and our needs are here and now.”

              Right. I would not bother if I thought the singularity would come sooner than the build up of problems with energy and CO2.

              “which means that whatever is out there, as yet unimagined and uninvented, has to manifest itself pretty damned quick—like in less than the next 20 years.”

              That’s the assumption.

              “Stop to think just what that means—I repeat: we have to invent something we don’t even know exists, ”

              Less than two years ago, I don’t have a proposal to offer. It’s taken a huge effort to find a path to cheap enough transport.

              “or even can exist except to hopium addicts, and then power it out across the industrial function of the globe, all by the use of an old industrial powerbase that is itself grinding to a halt over the same time period.”

              There is a huge market for cheap energy. If the profit from building power satellites is high enough, you can expect it to grow as fast as we can build rocket planes.

              Feel free to point out the problems after you understand the proposal.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              ‘There is a huge market for cheap energy. If the profit from building power satellites is high enough, you can expect it to grow as fast as we can build rocket planes’

              https://66.media.tumblr.com/0113e1abad32199c5e9dadf6e4cdf933/tumblr_nrdnowSjDe1qzpnnro1_500.jpg

            • assuming there is a (as yet unknown, unthought of) solution out there, when/if it manifests itself, it will require the existing infrastructure on which to get up and running.
              The new “system’ will require physicality, not skymagic.

              Such ”up and running” by definition cannot be instantaneous, therefore must require 20/30 years, maybe more. We do not have that much time.

              In addition, we live in a capitalist system.
              So unless this (whatever it is) is given freely to all, an elite few will capitalise on it. (as the ”system” itself will have required ”capital” to manifest itself in the first place)
              Thus the few will enrich themselves, demanding a return on expended capital, while the rest will remain in worsening poverty through lack of energy access.

              If on the other hand it is given freely to all, then all will proceed to use it at a frantic rate to bring themselves up to the level of ”western” civilisation.
              That will consume ‘stuff’ at an ever faster rate. All ‘stuff’ is by definition finite. We use heat energy to refine all the other earth resources to make what we use and live by.
              This is why fantastical energy resources will not resolve our consumption problems.

              If it is not given freely to all, then you can be certain that the nations who have ”it” will need to build trumpwalls to keep out those who do not.
              And be utterly ruthless in keeping out those ‘have nots’

              You will then have a world of
              A—permanent slave society (with a rich minority)
              or B permanent conflict

              Take your choice—humankind cannot exist in a simultaneous state of harmony and inequality.

              Interesting conundrum isn’t it? But it is one drawn from the reality of human nature as it exists, not from something drawn from imagination and wishful thinking

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Well…. if the best shot we have is your solar space boondoggle…. then I am 100% sure that there is no future.

              The future is now — we need something now — there is nothing. Absolutely nothing.

      • Zanstel says:

        There is a lot of options. It’s only matter than today, most of them are not competitive or require some changes that if you want to make today and not when the old infrastructure is amortized, you have to make a extra spend.
        You have…
        Water pump (hydro).
        Batteries (energy dense -> transportantion, cheap -> local storage). See, for example, sodium based to scale batteries to terawatts hour levels of storage.
        Flow batteries (more expensive power, but cheaper long term storage because separate both concepts).
        Demand management. Cheap as infrastructure, but require global redesign, so slow to deploy or make a extra spending.
        Better logistics. In some way, it’s like demand management but from the point of view of embedded energy in products. You manufacture more when there is extra energy production (ej. summer) and change the role in low energy (in winter, maintainance & repair, assembly…)
        Etc. Etc.

        There is a whole world between less energy and a collapse. In general, there is a lot of numbers about the peak oil movement that overstimate the problem and see always “irresolvable problems”.

    • I think your statement needs more “ifs” in it. You say, “Colocating wind power and hydropower might make a lot of sense respecting storage. Otherwise storage costs are prohibitive.”

      I am not sure that when all of the costs are counted, including transmission costs, cost of replacement parts, and the relatively short life span of wind turbines (especially when the original manufacturers are out of business), adding wind makes sense, even when hydroelectric is available for balancing. Remember, the only data we have regarding wind costs in the US are subsidized wind costs. Denmark is balancing wind mostly with hydroelectric, and its costs are very high, for example. Part of the problem Denmark has is that it gets a low price for wind energy it needs to sell, but has to pay a higher prices when it wants to buy the hydroelectric it needs. It might be cheaper to burn oil than to use wind.

      Euan Mearns - electricity price oil generation

  27. Gregg Armstrong says:

    I’m going by the 2012 $US cost for a planned 96,000 barrel per day faculty that was planned to be built in the Southern USA around 2012. Qatar’s plants did not have to comply with US environmental and other regulations plus I don’t believe you’ve adjusted for inflation.

    Qatar has large supplies of stranded natural gas. Our natural gas supplies are pretty much all near existing pipelines meaning subject to large price fluctuations. We supposedly have lots of coal that could be used for an FT coal to liquids process.

    • Don says:

      In her book “When Trucks Stop Running”, Alice J Friedman writes that coal to liquids is actually being done, but at considerable cost. It seems that about half of coals thermal energy is lost in the conversion, but the process makes a passable #2 diesel.

  28. Gregg Armstrong says:

    As an Aerospace Design Engineer (Electronic Systems, Electrical Systems, System Integration, Embedded Software, Launch Flight Safety, etc.) I worked on the design of huge programs (MX/Peacekeeper Missile Multiplr Protective Shelter basing, B-1, B-2 Stealth Bomber, 777, Sea Launch, multiple commercial airplane preliminary design studies, Small ICBM Hard Mobile Launcher, Small ICBM fixed launcher, etc.

    I have yet to see any non-Delusistan solution to the problem of resource depletion of crude oil, crude condensates, natural gas and coal. The complexity of proposed solutions like power satellites, synthetic fuels plants, etc., are just not feasible solutions for transportation fuels, not to mention electrical generation. 95% of transportation requires liquid fuels like gasoline or petroleum distillates. It would take 50 years (that is the typical transition time for new technologies) to make the transition to new technology assuming that we had the time and resources, which we don’t have.

    We have been in gradual collapse for around 50 years already. It’s been masked by the accumulation of unplayable debts. But, the signs are increasingly difficult to mask. Last week the 7th largest container ship line, South Korea’s Hanjin Line, filed for bankruptcy protection. They have 540,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units) filled with manufactured goods stuck in limbo aboard ships that have either been seized as collateral in ports or that have been refused entry to ports because they can’t pay for dock services. It’s estimated that it will take two to three months to free up cargo in the 540,000 affected TEUs. Logistics companies are already begging for a bailout because it’s potentially disastrous for just in time manufacturing.

    Governments are insolvent. World debt is over $225 trillion. Private and government pension plans have unfounded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars. The world’s leaders have had their heads in the sand for 50 years, kicking the can down the road. Soon that can is going be seen to be a steel post buried in concrete and its not going to budge.

    I try not to be a pessimist. But, as a realist I don’t see any feasible solutions that will prevent eventual collapse. The timing is impossible to predict, but the inevitability is surely certain.

    • Don says:

      While I can’t speak to the ‘Dreamliner’, I can say that the 777 is probably the best Boeing to have come along. How were you involved in it’s development, if you don’t mind my asking. I retired from flying on the 777.

      • Gregg Armstrong says:

        Integrated Product Team leader on Electrical Load Management System (ELMS), Systems Cardfiles (miscellaneous aircraft specific functions) and Boeing-built Cabin Management & Entertainment System. Also worked on some aspects of the ARINC 629 data bus implementation. The 777 is a really great airplane.

        • Don says:

          Very interesting, Gregg. I remember how smoothly ELMS could switch between power sources, apu or external power. Quite a difference from the 767. No small feat I imagine.

          • Gregg Armstrong says:

            Yes, it’s an amazingly capable system that automatically responds to sources, loads and fault conditions. I can’t remember the software metrics and wouldn’t say if I could. But, it’s a very complex system that monitors nearly every system on the 777.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      Gregg, I know it’s not likely to happen again, but you know what engineers can do if they are well supported, i.e., the Manhattan project.

      If the government (or several of them) decided power satellites were the way to go and went to Boeing, how long would do you think it would take for them to detail design something like Skylon and scale up to 25 a month?

    • “The timing is impossible to predict, but the inevitability is surely certain.”

      I think you are right on this one.

      We have been in “stagflation” since about 1970, which is a little short of 50 years. The timing would seem to be about right for hitting full collapse, based on the analysis of Peter Turchin and Surgey Nefedov, in “Secular Cycles.” (The graph is mine, but based on their work.

      Gail Tverberg's interpretion of Secular cycle shape.

  29. dolph - i'm alive and posting this, and you are alive and reading it says:

    Ok, you people can start talking about collapse when you can prove that:
    -billions of people are dying in a very short time frame
    -there is no oil, coal, or gas available, anywhere in the world
    -there is no food available, anywhere in the world
    -all currencies have either become locked up and unavailable, or are hyperinflating at the same time
    -no electricity is available, anywhere in the world
    -all the nations have gone to war, and all of the major ports and cities are being bombed, including nuclear weapons being used daily

    Do you see how ridiculous your assertions are? You people believe in the above, you have posted this again and again. If you don’t actually believe in the above, now is your time to correct me. Which if you do, you have shown that you don’t actually believe in the fast collapse.

    Moreover, if you actually subscribe to the fast collapse scenario, you are wasting your time preparing, because no amount of preparations will insulate you or your family from the fallout.

    What you are engaging in is actually a form of wishful thinking, and it is interesting from a psychological perspective that grown adults, intelligent and educated, engage in it. What you guys believe can be summed up as
    1) Everyone is about to die!
    2) But I’m going to survive because I’m in the know!

    Strange, really strange. For whatever reason Gail’s blog has become a focal point for this, many of the other doomer sites are going nowhere precisely because nobody can actually point to doom. It didn’t used to be this way, I’ve followed this blog for a long time and for awhile it was carrying on the tradition that was started by the oil drum. But it seems we’ve exhausted this, so we have nothing left to do but snipe at each other because you people keep saying “today’s the day it all comes down” and then some of us come back and say “nope, didn’t happen today” which is becoming really boring. I have a feeling we’ll be doing this for decades.

    • Collapse is coming next decade (2027), once 80% of the oil reserves are gone.

      But keep this in mind:
      “How did you go bankrupt?”
      Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
      Ernest Hemingway

      Anyway, always enjoy your comments. Don’t go away.

      • Gregg Armstrong says:

        Exactly. It’s Seneca’s cliff. There a gradual ramp up, a plateau and then a frightful plunge. Think of it as the world riding Space Mountain at Disney World in Orlando, FL.

      • What does 80% of oil reserves being gone have to do with anything? The economy will likely collapse, long before that point is hit.

        • Agree that the economy will go down first, followed by shortages that will lead to all kinds of unpredictable consequences.

          The good thing is that no one will attack the US, and there are lots of dollars offshore. So, the next administration might be able to hold the economy within a basket of currency. Anyway, things will deteriorate to most Americans.

          But, once the general public realize that there won’t be any more gas, and that we’ll going back to the first century, the only thing I can think that would best describe is: We’ll all become walking dead.

          “The intellect has a sharp eye for methods and tools, but is blind to ends and values. So it is no wonder that this fatal blindness is handed on from old to young and today involves a whole generation.” — Albert Einstein. The Goal of Human Existence, 1943.

          By the way, I love your work, Gail. Can’t thank you enough for how much I learned, and how much you, and your bloggers help me connect the dots.

          Thank you all.

          • Christian says:

            Obrigado

            “The good thing is that no one will attack the US”

            Not sure these people agree with you

            http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/concepts/joe/joe_2035_july16.pdf

            “a basket of currency”

            You can bet on it as on the fact the Sun will rise tomorrow

            “We’ll all become walking dead”

            Well, I’ve already gone through that stage. Hope it will never come back, or rather I know I will not endure it again, it’s not worth

            • Thanks! I know that a few years ago, I was one of a number of people invited to the Naval War Academy in Rhode Island. The people in charge there wanted to know what kind of “war games” they should be preparing for, in a world with increased pollution problems and perhaps resource shortages. I suggested that their biggest problem might be lack of funding for the military.

          • You are welcome!

        • psile says:

          I believe as little as a 2-3% decline in real production would be enough to obliterate BAU.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ++++++

          • CTG says:

            Correct ! A lot of people think that it needs to go down to zero before TSHTF. No it does. That is common misconception like the Chinese Reserves of whatever trillion they have. They have many already reserved for internal use. It is only left some that they can play with.

            Some as you have tons of oil available but once the cheap ones are done, you are done and that may be just 5% of what it is. Ghawar produces about 5-6% of the entire world’s oil production. Tomorrow if Saudi Arabia goes to the press and says that Ghawar is dead, what do you think will happen to the financial world? Within 10mins, everyone with FB, Twitter, email, SMS, Whatsapp, WeChat will know and panic will set in whether that panic is justified or not.

            If you are a trader who has nothing to do with oil production, when you play into the futures, you are actually manipulating the prices of real products. You are suppose to take delivery. Say, Fast Eddie is the guy who just shorted 1 million barrel of crude oil for delivery in one month. He thinks he can make big bucks as prices will drop over the next month. Suddenly, with Ghawar dead and Saudi’s production will drop from 10mbpd to 6 mbpd per day, the prices of oil spiked up 20%. Our dear FE has to take delivery or buy in oil to cover his shorts. Since he is not an airline company or refinery, he cannot take delivery of the 1m barrel of oil at Cushing, OK. He has no choice but to close his position just before the delivery is requested.

            Multiply that by a thousand times for all the traders who has no intention of taking delivery of the oil. How about those who borrowed to play with this futures market. How about the banks who loan to the companies who then loaned to the oil traders? The chain is very long.

            So, it does not take the whole thing to go down to ZERO before TSHTF.

          • You are likely correct. Worldwide energy consumption dropped by -1.5% in 2009, and that was pretty awful.

            The increase in the production of goods and services may be a little higher than the increase in energy consumption, because of efficiency gains, so the two don’t match up exactly. But you get the idea.

    • doomphd says:

      For years maybe, but not for decades.

    • Curt Kurschus says:

      Collapse is a process.

      Perhaps we are more accustomed to thinking of collapse as something quick and sudden because we think of someone falling on stage or banks and businesses shutting down all at once in the space of a week or two.

      In order to reach that point, the process of collapse may engage over a period of months, years, or decades. Perhaps the actress on stage suddenly collapsed because she had pushed herself so hard for months or years without getting enough rest or sufficient nutrition, for example.

      Looking around the world today, we can see that there is food on the retailers’ shelves and fuel in the service station pumps. We can see sharemarkets hitting or flirting with new highs. It would be easy to dismiss the prognostications of collapse so harsh that service stations rust and sharemarkets lay silent.

      However, in that same survey of the current global situation, we see signs of things really being not so well at all. The Baltic Dry Index has been struggling to get anywhere so far this year, and shipping companies are in trouble. Manufacturing and global trade are in decline or stagnant. Increasing numbers of people are giving up on ever finding a job and people who do find work are not earning enough to make ends meet. Global Warming and Peak Oil are both implicated as causative factors in the current mess in the Middle East and North Africa. Banks in the USA, Europe, Japan, are struggling to stay afloat in an environment of low, zero, or negative interest rates even as those same rates are failing to spur growth. Greenland and parts of Antarctica are melting more rapidly than glaciologists and climatologists had previously expected would be the case by this time. Oil companies that had contributed to the increase in total all liquids production in recent years are going bankrupt as they find themselves unable to pay the debts that had allowed them to grow production so strongly.

      The list goes on.

      Those of us living in the developed world may be able to convince ourselves that full supermarket shelves suggest that all is well, but a peek behind the curtain reveals a very different reality unfolding – the progressing process of collapse.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      I doubt there will be a world war… but I agree on the rest.

      I would add the spent fuel ponds poisoning the world… that should be top of the list

      There is no point in prepping – there will be no survivors within max a year of the end of BAU….

      But I’d still fill the 20ft container and vie to be the Last Man on Earth.

      The only thing I am uncertain of is the timing.

      It’s like the stock market — even if most investors agree a massive correction is coming — very few ever time it — and the ones who do — were just the ones whose guess came right.

      If you have many thousands of punters guessing — some will get it right – some of the time

      The thing is ….

      The longer this drags out the better — I don’t find it boring at all … I don’t find not eating rat meat… suffering… dying … boring at all…

      In fact I find it all invigorating…. I am scrambling to come up with more things to see and do before the curtain falls…

    • Tim Groves says:

      Every seven or eight years we’ve been getting a recession. And recent recessions have been getting deeper. 2008 was the deepest yet and the world economy was put on life support for years afterward. The current 2016 one looks like it’s going to be worse, and we may not have a world economy by the time we come out of it. But even if we do get airborne again, we can look forward to more of the same in 2023-24. So I honestly don’t think we’ll be doing this for decades fun though it is.

    • The changes don’t have to happen overnight. Even a change over 20 years–or 10 years–would be very rapid.

  30. Kurt says:

    The train is leaving the station. The top 3% are on it. You folks are on the platform arguing about stuff that just… does…not…matter…at…all. There is only one thing that will matter during collapse, fast or slow, and that is military power. The U.S. Military will prevail and protect the elite.

    • psile says:

      The U.S. military. LMAO…

      • doomphd says:

        Dmitry Orlov said recently that the US military employs clowns that otherwise would not be helpful to society, and gives them three squares a day. Rather harsh assessment, but some truth in there.

        • Don says:

          I saw Orlov’s comment about military members on his blog. This coming from someone who crowd sourced funding to make engine repairs on the sailboat he lives on. Helpful to society indeed. Though I often agree with Orlov, his remarks made me bristle as he is in no position to comment on military members unless he himself ever wore a uniform.

          The military experience is what you make it. There are endless opportunities for those who want to learn something. In my case, I went from wearing stripes as I held the dumb end of a surveyors tape to wearing bars in just a few years, strapped to a supersonic jet. My experience was not all that unusual. The high tech military almost literally throws an education at you (they have to), in many career fields, if you are just willing to put out the effort. It’s all about the ‘tooth to tail ratio’ that makes such training important. Just as a huge tiger is really a life support system for a relatively small set of jaws, so is it with the military. Best of all, I would later find that the airlines were more than happy to hire us ex ‘military clowns’.

          • doomphd says:

            Back when I visited Antarctica, the US Antarctic Research Program used the US military (all forces) for logistics. On a visit to the summit of Mt. Erebus, I got to “ski” down the mountain in a Huey at what would have been tree-top level if there had been any trees. Nobody called those pilots “clowns”. They were highly-skilled Vietnam vets.

          • psile says:

            Let’s hope they don’t ever come across a credible fighting force, instead of peasants, shepherds and day labourers brandishing 30 year old AK-47’s…

        • Fast Eddy says:

          So Orlov lives in America right? He is on the winning team then…

          Yet he cheers for Team Russia…. the losing team… to date…

          He seems to think they’ve got it right.

          Why doesn’t he more to Moscow?

          • xabier says:

            Orlov wanted a Russian passport as insurance for his son, and now indulges in very obvious Russian propaganda as pay-back, which is curiously similar to the old Soviet line (with a lot of truth in it.) Quite understandable and a good deal for him: easy to knock off a few lines now and then in return for a passport!

            I have just heard from a friend in Moscow who has been in Iran and Turkey for the last 6 months, As to how things are in Russia, (in February 2016 we were told by our own propagandists that Russia was ‘on the brink of collapse and civil emergency’, he merely observed, ‘Not good, but we are used to that sort of thing and on the whole everyone is positive and enjoying the last of the summer.’

          • I think his wife and young son live in Russia. (He remarried a few years ago.) He spends quite a bit of time with them there. They also sail to warm areas of the world in winter, if I remember correctly. (I am trying to remember a conversation I had with Dmitry, a couple of years ago, when we were speaking at the same conference.)

          • psile says:

            Sorry FE. In what way is Russia “losing” exactly?

        • Tango Oscar says:

          That’s not true. I served in the U.S. military for 6 years and there are lots of highly skilled, intelligent, and ruthless killers in it. There are also lots of dummies, which has been the case for every company or organization I’ve ever worked for. That said, the military won’t be protecting the elite; that’s pure fantasy. When people go a day or two without a meal all hell is going to break loose. Furthermore, the elites will have much, much larger targets on their backs than everyone else.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            ‘the US military employs clowns’

            There are plenty of very capable people in the US military …. also plenty of cannon fodder…

          • “Dmitry Orlov said recently that the US military employs clowns that otherwise would not be helpful to society, and gives them three squares a day.”

            ” I served in the U.S. military for 6 years and there are lots of highly skilled, intelligent, and ruthless killers in it. ”

            How would ruthless killers be helpful to society? The only reason we need a military, is because the other guys have a military. It is a cost that does not really provide a proportional benefit. Maybe not as big a waste as the prison system, but probably not too far off.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              The military is the basis of prosperity, freedom, life — if the US did not have a strong military the people would not be living large.

              So the military is incredibly important to society.

              Recall the first chapter of guns germs steel…. the one tribe is pacifist… the other aggressive…

              Anyone remember what happened when they ran into each other?

            • Tango Oscar says:

              My argument wasn’t that the military is helpful to society, it was that the military isn’t in the business of hiring clowns. Any military is useful in two situations; another country has something you want or they have a military and are trying to take something you have. In that sense they are incredibly important to society.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Take Iraq for example. The U.S. military has been a great benefit to society when we just hop on over and let Halliburton start setting up oil rigs.

            • CTG says:

              Military is very much dependent on supply chain as well. There is no such thing as “I am fully supplied”. Just a single screw that is critical to the engine will cause the engine to just seize and die. The best part, you can use that tank as a “spare part tank” that you can tear apart and fit into other tanks (same type of model).

    • Sungr says:

      Russia’s advanced RS-26 intercontinental ballistic missile has raised admiring eyebrows of military experts everywhere, the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper wrote.

      Russia’s new RS-26 missile travels along a continuously changing trajectory and as such it has no analogues in the world,” the expert said.

      “This one is even better than the famous Topol-M missile… Its warheads are supersonic and change their course all the time. Some of them will penetrate any existing missile defense shield and will hit their target,” the expert added.

      What makes the RS-26 so special is that even though it weighs just 80 tons, compared to the 120-ton heft of its RS-24 Yars predecessor, the Rubezh packs a frightening 1,2 megatons into its four 300 kiloton warheads.

      With a potential range of 11,000 kilometers the RS-26 can hit targets all across the United States. Moreover, its booster stage is down to under five minutes, which means that NATO radars in Europe will have no time to register the launch. Adding to NATO air defenders’ worries, during the descending section of its trajectory, with only a few hundred kilometers left to the target, the missile’s warheads suddenly take a dive, lose altitude, and continue the approach as a cruise missile. These new Russian ICBM warheads were developed in response to America’s plans to deploy a global missile defense system along Russia’s borders. The RS-26 Rubezh is expected to become operational in 2016.

      Read more: http://sputniknews.com/russia/20160309/1036002714/russia-missile-shocker.html

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Really?

      The elites control the military by paying them — and through the control of the financial system.

      When BAU ends – wealth will vapourize — the financial system will disintegrate.

      And the elites will be exposed as frail old men and women.

      And the military will kick them aside …

      Of course because the fuel reserves will soon run out .. the military will disband as well….

      There will be no food post BAU – and spent fuel ponds will kill everyone — so this is all moot.

      The elites and the military will be in the same boat as everyone else.

      The Good Ship Extinction has room for all

      • psile says:

        We all know that FE. But before we reach that point, I’m sure there’s a lot more shooting to be done.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          No doubt about that…. recall Rwanda…. my understanding of that conflict was that it was related to population pressures…. there was not enough land to go around….

          And as expected…. fighting broke out … better to have a tribe behind you when you are confronted by a tribe in a land dispute…

          http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/REU-RWANDA-GENOCIDE-1.jpg

          Land = food.

          There will be very little food available post BAU.

          Rwanda? Not even remotely close to what we are going to see while the bullets and the bits of food last post BAU….

          The planet is will be turned into an abattoir ….. we will experience the very worst behaviours….

          I can imagine that those who currently protect us — will be some of the worst offenders.

    • Tim Groves says:

      When the collapse train leaves the station, the military have a long and honorable record of becoming the elite.

      • Correct.

        Also take into account there something like several thousands, perhaps even low dozen of thousands castles and similar defensible – repairable ruins distributed nicely across Europe. Plus some surrounding fields and meadows nearby, you have got a nucleus for a restart on some quasi medieval level of society on steroids (scraps from todays world). It will take time to re-breed the working horses and outdoor varieties of cattle. All in all several millions of people living in Europe year ~2100-2200-2300 is a workable vision..

        I did skip the era before that on purpose, because what will happen with the likely swarm of hundreds of million in various incoming migration waves, no one knows. But it’s likely sooner or later the gloves will go off.

        • Artleads says:

          “Also take into account there something like several thousands, perhaps even low dozen of thousands castles and similar defensible – repairable ruins distributed nicely across Europe. Plus some surrounding fields and meadows nearby”

          I know a little about repairing ruins. I don’t believe it would be that simple. There is an entire world of aristocrats and historians and preservationists who would likely get in the way in the short run. Ruins are not just there for the taking.

          “Plus some surrounding fields and meadows nearby, you have got a nucleus for a restart on some quasi medieval level of society on steroids (scraps from todays world).”

          Such thinking is for people with lots of time on their hands.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Yep – and guys like George will be kicked down the stairs and into the gutter…

        http://www.streetinsider.com/images/news2/112/11237256/george-soros.jpg

        http://static2.politico.com/dims4/default/cd4aa13/2147483647/resize/1160x%3E/quality/90/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fs3-origin-images.politico.com%2F2013%2F04%2F04%2F130404_sheldon_605_ap.jpg

        I am wondering — how do these two guys not die – look at them! Particularly Adelson…

        Do they have medical teams supported by Lance Armstrong shooting them up to keep the unit going?

        Do they purchase fresh babies from the third world … suck the blood out of them … and drip it into the veins overnight?

        Do they have a deal with the devil?

        What is their secret?

    • only if the US military is still in operation–someone is paying them, and can get supplies for them.

  31. Gregg Armstrong says:

    The capital cost for a 100,000 barrels per day capacity Fischer-Tropsh synthetic fuels plant is estimated at $11 billion to $12 billion (2012 $US). In 2015 the United States consumed about 9.16 million barrels of gasoline per day and 2.9 million barrels of distillate fuel per day.

    Assuming a 90% utilization rate, to meet the United States 2015 daily gasoline demand would have required 102 FT synthetic gasoline plants and 33 FT synthetic distillate plants. The capital cost estimate (2012 $US) is between $1.485 trillion to $1.62 trillion. Amazingly enough, that’s not much more than the present day cost of a Saturn V Apollo moon shot cost (25,000 pounds to TLI (translunar insertion), which is roughly equivalent to GEO insertion).

    This does not include costs of carbon rich and hydrogen rich feedstocks required. FT plant feedstocks are typically coal and natural gas. But, in post-crude oil, post-coal and post-natural gas world some other form of feedstocks will be required. Also, FT plants usually use the coal feedstock to power the plant. Without coal the nation’s electricity demand would have to soar to power the FT plants requiring another significant capital investment for electrical generation plants and distribution grid.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      If the oil glut results in us running out of storage…. we can just start sending rockets to the moon on a daily basis…

      I understand that Elon Musk has a stake in this…. Richard Branson as well…

      Now if I were Don Draper … I would spin this as The Space Dream Team.

      Buy your ticket to the moon at http://www.fasteddymoonshot.com (a division of Strife Travel)

    • Ed says:

      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/fuel-seawater-whats-catch-180953623/?no-ist

      Yes, a nuclear reactor is needed to supply the power and lots of sea water.

    • hkeithhenson says:

      “The capital cost for a 100,000 barrels per day capacity Fischer-Tropsh synthetic fuels plant is estimated at $11 billion to $12 billion (2012 $US).”

      The Sasol plant in Qatar is 34,000 bbl/day and cost a billion (2012) dollars. So by that metric, you are high by a factor of 4 or around 3 B/100,000 bbl/day or $30 B for a million bbl/day output.

      Another metric is to write the plant off in 8 years. $1 B/(34,000*365*8) making the capital cost ~$10 per bbl. Even at a penny a kWh, the energy cost is twice this high.

      The US current oil use is around 20 million bbl/day so the capital cost to replace all the oil with synthetic oil from F/T plants would be around $600 B. In one lump that’s a lot of money, but spread over 20 years as enough cheap power from space comes on line, it’s only $30 B a year.

      It would roughly double the capital investment in oil refineries.

      • stephen duval says:

        Natural gas to methanol is the way to break OPEC’s monopoly in transportation fuel.

        https://www.fuelfreedom.org/mit-researchers-methanol-is-a-viable-transportation-fuel/
        MIT researchers: ‘Methanol is a viable transportation fuel’ 2015
        These alcohol fuels can be produced from shale gas on energy-based cost that is competitive with oil-derived gasoline. They can also be produced from various biomass feedstocks and waste.”
        300,000 cubic feet of natural gas that can produce 1,500 gallons of methanol
        Because methanol is such a relatively small molecule, it does not form the residual carbon compounds that have been implicated in air pollution.

        http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Chinas-Growing-Use-of-Methanol-as-a-Cleaner-Alternative-to-Gasoline.html 2013
        In less than a decade China’s methanol use in the transportation sector has grown from virtually zero to providing 8% of the country’s fuel supply,

        Peng Zhi Gui, the former Deputy Governor of the Shanxi Province, said that “methanol is seen as a strategic fuel by the rapidly growing nation due to its clean fuel benefits, favorable economics, the ease of adopting methanol in current fueling infrastructure and the advantage of being able to use alternative feed stocks in a nation that is lacking in domestic oil reserves.”

        http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/10/30/methanol__the_fuel_in_waiting_124487.html
        Methanol is the fuel that would make the best and most convenient substitute for gasoline in automobiles and small trucks. It has about two-thirds the energy value of gasoline, but its high octane rating pushes this up above 70 percent. It is a liquid at room temperature and therefore would fit into our current gasoline infrastructure – as opposed to compressed natural gas or electric vehicles, which require a whole new delivery system.
        It is also much less cumbersome than corn ethanol, which now requires nearly half the annual corn crop produced in the U.S. to provide only 3 percent of our energy needs. Methanol made from natural gas would now sell for about $1 less per gallon than gasoline. Methanol can also be made from food waste, municipal garbage and just about any other organic source.
        Car engines can burn methanol with a $200 adjustment that can be performed by any mechanic.

        http://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2013/08/20/real-energy-independence-making-oil-no-longer-strategic/
        Since 1973, the world’s population has risen from 4 billion people to 7 billion people, and there are four times as many cars on the road. Over that period, world GDP has risen 14 times — from $5 trillion to $70 trillion — and global oil demand has risen from 55 million barrels a day (mbd) in 1973 to 88 mbd today. Amazingly, OPEC’s share of global oil supply in the last 40 years has declined from 54% to 33% while their production level has remained constant at 30.4 million barrels a day. This is despite the fact that: (1) OPEC sits on three-quarters of all conventional oil reserves in the world; and (2) discovery and lifting costs in the Persian Gulf are among the lowest in the world ($2.50 per barrel in Saudi Arabia).

        • CTG says:

          How much infrastructure does it take to make the methanol required for the change? Do we have the $$$ and will power for the change? Do we have enough time to make the transition. With regards to $$$, how is it going to be funded? Be realistic and again don’t give general answers. I can get a child to say general answers but as rational adults in this forum, please provide realistic answers to the questions that I pose.

        • CTG says:

          Again – do you know what you are saying. I mean really really understand what you are saying just copy and paste? If you really really know what you are saying with the technical know how and engineering, then we can debate on that. If you are just copying and pasting it from other sources and you are not even from a science or engineering-based background, then there is no point debating. Do I debate engineering or science issues with an account or someone with no engineering background? No, it does not help but makes nerves fray.

    • ” But, in post-crude oil, post-coal and post-natural gas world some other form of feedstocks will be required.”

      No one is planning complex industry for post-BAU. The original post was about using coal-to-liquid and molten salt reactors to replace oil as supplies dwindle at whatever price consumers can afford.

      • Tim Groves says:

        I was thinking that as coal is more abundant than oil, it could be used as a feedstock for making liquid fuels while nuclear (either thorium or Mr Fusion) and space-based solar would be used to provide so much electricity that we could (not literally) fry the world in waste heat. All this would entail a continuation of BAU, which doesn’t seem to be on the cards. Post collapse we would have less chance of building nuclear plants or sending power satellites into orbit as the people of Dark Age Europe would have had putting the Roman Empire back together again.

        • “I was thinking that as coal is more abundant than oil, it could be used as a feedstock for making liquid fuels ”

          Why not just use coal-fired steam powered trains and ships to move goods and people around? Even if you have to grind up the coal into dust and glue it all together with a binding agent to make fuel pellets to facilitate controlled, automated feed, I think you would lose less than half the energy, and the capital outlay would be far less than spending trillions on CTL plants. Or just employ people as coal shovelers.

          • around the early 1900s Winston Churchill converted the British fleet from coal to oil.

            Now you want to convert them back again?

            I hope you know where the coal is going to come from

            • Fast Eddy says:

              I was thinking of coal mining the other day when some workers were digging some holes for piers for a deck/end of world dance floor that we are installing on our house …. they were down about 2 metres and had covered them as rain was expected…

              They removed the covers and were going to pour cement but the holes had filled up as ground water had seeped in ….

              They had to pump them out and let them dry….

              There will be no coal mined post BAU because there will be no pumps….

            • i find it amusing when unknowing individuals imagine coal can just be ”got”

              100ft below where im sitting right now there’s lots of coal
              http://shropshirehistory.com/mining/coalbrookdalecf.htm
              that is the link to it

              interesting reading for anyone who wants to come and collect some

            • “There will be no coal mined post BAU because there will be no pumps….”

              If there is a total, catastrophic collapse, mining coal will probably be pretty low priority. Imagining a future stable society that exists post-BAU, people have been successfully pumping water out of mines since at least the 16th century, before coal or oil.

            • no they haven’t—other than in a very primitive fashion.

              modern (post 1776) steam pumps allowed deep coal mining, and thus access to vast coal reserves

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Difficult to rewind…. we slowly built up industrial capabilities…. post BAU we crash into total starvation … massive deforestation … total chaos…

              As you point out — trying to operate pumps to allow for coal mining will be very low priority….

              Food will be the highest priority – and there will be very little

            • The wells are pretty deep now. Long walk in and out.

        • Coal is surprisingly depleted. What drives coal producers to bankruptcy seems to be an increase in price, followed by a decrease in price. This seems to happen at the same time for all fossil fuels. Coal right now seems to be in the worst shape among all fossil fuels.

          • CTG says:

            Too expensive to extract – depleted sources, bureaucracy. I pick as bureaucracy as one of the reasons for high cost.

            • The whole system of paying for intermittent renewables is even more complex than I covered in my post. One of the parts of the system is Renewable Energy Credits. Another is “Forward Capacity Auctions” which are used some places to somewhat compensate for the funds lost when intermittent renewables sell their services at too low a price, and by doing this, disrupt pricing for others electricity providers. These also add to the costs, and shift things around so it is hard to see what is happening.

  32. Gregg Armstrong says:

    “At the federal level, the production or investment tax credit and double-declining accelerated depreciation can pay for two-thirds of a wind power project. Additional state incentives, such as guaranteed markets and exemption from property taxes, can pay for another 10%.”

    “If we believe this statement, the developer only pays about 23% of the cost of a wind energy project.”

    Very interesting. Is it a coincidence that the average wind turbine only generates ~21% of its nameplate power over the course of a year and that developers only pay ~23% of the development cost? I do not believe that this is a coincidence. I think that this is an example showing that the crony capitalist conporations have off loaded most of their costs onto the taxpayers and ratepayers while freeing themselves from all tax burdens. It’s a classic, “heads I win, tails you lose” game situation. The crony capitalist conporations always win and we always lose.