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. Fast Eddy says:

    At the of the day 99.99999% of humans are no different than this

    The 0.0000001% who understand this … are easily able to manipulate the human cattle…

    All you have to do is show them this

    and the effect is much the same bringing this near the sheep enclosure

    Oh and we all know how to train a dog —- rewards tend to work very well …

    Stands to reason that the same strategy will work with a human …. cash is the reward…

    And everyone is for sale…

    I’ve never seen a dog say no to a treat either….

  2. interguru says:

    The 0.0000001% who understand this … are easily able to manipulate the human cattle…

    That’s one part in 10^9 (one in a billion (US) ). That means that 7 people in the world understand what is going on. Eddy, I assume you are one of them. Who are the other six?

    • Fast Eddy says:

      The ones making the matrix know … of course. I don’t include them in the 0.000001%

      There would be quite a few of them I would imagine…. Don Draper knows…. Kissinger… etc…

      The only others that I am aware of — are on this website on a regular basis….

      I have never actually met someone outside of FW who demonstrated that they were not blue-piller’s…. anyone who swallowed the red pill would eventually land on FW…. because they would be relentlessly curious…. and they’d have nowhere else to go….

      Then again … I’ve never won the lottery…. and the odds of finding a red-piller…. are far lower than winning a major lottery…. so I suspect I will live my entire life never having met a red-piller…

      ‘Knowing’ …. is a lonely pursuit….

      • doomphd says:

        Fast, we could organize a FW red pillar BBQ at Gail’s place in Atlanta. I hope she doesn’t mind if we all pop in for a sleep-over in her backyard. We would of course want her to give us an overview slide-show and presentation, with predictions. Can you imagine the Q&A afterward? Maybe us older folks would stay at a nearby hotel or survivalist camp.

        I know, a book signing event!

        • Jarvis says:

          Am I the only one who wonders how many people read FW? My guess is in the 10’s of thousands? I kinda agree with Fast eddy in that FW followers have the best understanding of our situation and I can’t help but wonder how many of us there are?

          • There are quite a few places that copy OFW articles, some with different titles. That makes it hard to tell. But the number is definitely in the 10s of thousands. It seems like on some popular articles, I have been able to count 100,000 from popular sites.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              This is probably pretty telling of human intelligence limitations as well as the popularity of the subject matter. Most intelligent people I know are either unable to understand the complexity of our problems or they simply refuse the underlying theme of near term human extinction.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              It doesn’t take a genius to grasp the nature of the situation we are facing…. but it does take something — I can’t quite put my finger on what it is….

            • Tango Oscar says:

              It’s not that it takes a genius to realize you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. That was never my intent, rather, it does take a certain level of intellect to comprehend the details of collapse. Like you say all the time, the average person is more likely to spend their time examining Kim Kardashian’s assets instead of understanding the electrical grid or how solar energy works.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Yep — but why is it that most people with the intellectual ability to understand the problem — are unable to…. no matter how clearly you lay it out for them…

              If you were to give them far more complex logic problems or math equations they could work them out ….

              That is what I cannot put my finger on.

            • Stefeun says:

              FE,
              I think you actually put your finger on it: they (all of us, in fact) have been raised up in the idea that every problem must have a solution.

              It’s linear thinking that consists in defining a question as precisely, narrowly, as possible, in order to bring an answer to this narrow, isolated problem. Side effects and all kinds of externalities are almost never taken into account (btw, that’s what’s killing us today, entropy we can’t get rid of).

              Yet, we’re not living in a juxtaposition of isolated entities, instead our world is a complex network of interlinked nodes, and when you modify one of them, it has an impact on the whole.
              A complex system does not have solutions, instead it shifts constantly from one equilibrium to another, in perpetual search of an optimal configuration.

              Most people think there must be solutions and a meaning to all that, while it’s only energy aiming to dissipate as fast as possible.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Easy. They resolve cognitive dissonance by choosing to accept the fairy tale rather than believe reality. Confirmation bias permits them to accept what they want as “real” while ignoring all the facts. They sift through life and just pick out the parts they agree with. Sort of like religious followers picking which parts of the bible they want to follow while ignoring the lies or obvious falsehoods.

            • JMS says:

              “It doesn’t take a genius to grasp the nature of the situation we are facing…. but it does take something — I can’t quite put my finger on what it is….”

              Maybe (Intellectual) courage? Or some kind of psychological strenght?

            • Christopher says:

              It requires a certain amount of cynicism. The conclusions of OFW are way too discouraging to the average citizen. I know many that realize that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. They admit we will have some problems but in the end everything will turn out rosy.

              Sometimes I think that OFW just gathers people from all around the world with a similar brain chemistry. Maybe we are all deceived by our own brain chemistry and all of the gloomy predictions will be wrong….

              On the other hand we could be the Cassandras of our time…

            • Tim Groves says:

              why is it that most people with the intellectual ability to understand the problem — are unable to…. no matter how clearly you lay it out for them…

              First, you have to ask the right questions, and if you can’t get good answers to them, you have to ask why that is. Most people, even those with the intellectual ability, are not necessarily interested in asking or answering the right questions.There are many subjects affecting our lives that don’t interest us enough for us to explore them in depth, and so we tend to assume someone else has done the requisite homework. And usually someone has, and so the system works, but not always by any means.

              Next, most people have a propensity for thinking in herds. They take comfort in being normal, in the majority, or about average. They don’t like to be an outlier along bell curve as they associate this subliminally with danger.

              This is where the mass media comes in. In today’s world, the media plays a crucial role in directing our attention towards things that the authorities have decided are problems we should know about and away from those they think we shouldn’t know about.

              The mass media is a hydra-headed beast, but how many of those heads are emphasizing the realities of finite world economics, the impossibility renewable energy being our savior, or the dangers of economic collapse? How many times have you seen in the mass media the concept of the Cubic Mile of Oil? How many mainstream media have explored the implications of “non-elite” workers no longer being able to afford oil at prices that can keep oil companies solvent? How many of them have looked into the consequences of current levels of debt and the scale of the derivatives market?

              The authorities clearly do not want the people thinking about the possibility of the end of BAU, and most of us conform.

          • Crates says:

            Tim, you said this:

            “The authorities clearly do not want the people thinking about the possibility of the end of BAU, and most of us conform.”

            If you think about it, it better be that way. Would not it be the worst imaginable black swans that the masses become aware of the reality of OFW? Imagine the consequences of the total loss of confidence in the future…

            In a way, without meaning to, OFW readers we have become the new punk working-class districts of London: “no future” 🙂

            In a way, in a marginalized, I’m afraid.

      • Sungr says:

        “Maybe us older folks would stay at a nearby hotel or survivalist camp.”

        Maybe Gail can forward a list of survivalist camps in the greater Atlanta area.

        • doomphd says:

          Sounds like it might be a pretty big backyard BBQ if Gail’s readership is in the 10,000 range. Even if only 1% actually show, up that’s 1E+04*1E-02 = E+02 guests. Well, maybe like the size of a wedding or big family reunion. Not too bad.

          We’d have to insist on FE being there, too, as a distinguished FW blogger.

  3. Fast Eddy says:

    I’ve been expecting you…

    http://nypost.com/2016/09/17/explosion-rocks-chelsea-in-new-york-city/

    Ratchet up the fear… ratchet up the terror…. prep the masses for the final act of BAU…. in the interest of holding the fort for a few more weeks… or months….

    Vote for Trump. We need walls. The terrorists are coming. We need our armed forces on the streets. The cop-killers are gonna get us. Do whatever it takes.

    Stay tuned as we shift to Europe … for the next episode of …. Martial Law Lite.

  4. Ert says:

    I found this critique on Naomi Klein & Co. in regard that she doesn’t see the picture of energy depletion and favors 100% green energy and green growth (e.g. leapfrog manifesto) quite interesting: http://fromfilmerstofarmers.com/blog/2016/september/naomi-klein-and-the-letdown-of-the-leap-manifesto-part-1/

    Whatever the background – without understanding the causes, as Gail lays them out here in the blog, one can’t formulate “solution” (or “extensions” as I see it) to our predicament.

    And I see not even energy depletion as the core problem – but overpopulation in relation to (long-time) available resources.

    • CTG says:

      Intellectual idiots – I have met one banker, in 2012, who keeps on insisting that Greece is really doing very well. Check out their GDP forecast and the unemployment figures given out by the government. He was arguing with me that why I am so pessimistic and that we should trust all the data given by the government. The banks have been using data from the government for all their modeling… sigh… better to be a wall flower when you are at an event where you are the only one who took the red pill.

    • Sungr says:

      Ert- it seems that the difference between a predicament vs a problem is that the predicament does not have a solution?

      So a predicament might be a situation where human population is surging into 50% over-population while at the same time it is impossible to enact any population control measures due to religious and political opposition.

      • Ert says:

        “it seems that the difference between a predicament vs a problem is that the predicament does not have a solution?”

        Thats how I see it, too.

        Someone may be of the opinion that is a problem – I see the boundaries of the road / way ahead as predicament. Individual (groups) may change lanes, overtake others, brake, go faster or slower… but the direction is per-determined by the laws of physics.

    • “And I see not even energy depletion as the core problem – but overpopulation in relation to (long-time) available resources.”

      The ultimate problem, as I see it, as that all systems must grow (exponentially) or die.

      • without checks and balances all (biological) systems will grow exponentially

        and then they will die

        That works equally well for a cancerous cell or global population.

        • “without checks and balances all (biological) systems will grow exponentially
          and then they will die”

          It sounds like you are proposing that with the right regulation, a perpetual motion machine is possible. The universe, our galaxy, our solar system, will all burn out. Even a stable population stuck in a Darwinian, Malthusian plateau will consume their environment, gradually wearing it down, causing their population to eventually plummet. A better-regulated system might last longer but will still collapse compared to an unregulated one.

          • i was careful to say ”biological” systems

            nothing to do with perpetual motion ”machines” at all

            obviously geometric growth will lead to the same thing eventually but over a much longer time period—-bacteria for instance —-the dominant life form on earth, have been around for 2 bn years.

            humankind discovered the means to exponential growth, and thought it was a perpetual motion machine.

            oops…………..

        • I am afraid you are right.

        • Yorchichan says:

          Does an individual animal not count as a biological system? An animal only grows until it reaches adulthood, after which there may be a long period of non-growth before death.

          • no animal exists in isolation

            we are all part of a group entity—our bodily function sustains the ongoing group-mass. Herd, hive, anthill, city—the function is exactly the same. I get born, reproduce myself—rant on FW–then die. The entire purpose of my existence.

            It is the group that can unbalance itself if left unchecked by outside forces
            That is so ridiculously obvious I didn’t think it needed saying.

            • Yorchichan says:

              You’d be amazed what isn’t obvious to me. The mathematician in me likes things to be properly defined to avoid confusion.

              Thanks for your rants. You and Fast Eddy make a great team and help make OFW the great site it is. If “The End Of More” was in paperback I’d buy it. I don’t know or want to know what exactly a “Kindle” is, but I do know I don’t want to own one.

            • thanks for the thumbs up

              am working on the paperback—honest

              i need to get the updates in it completed—it’s not as straightforward as kindle

            • JMS says:

              Norman,
              I would eagerly buy the paperback also, but I feel the same as Yorchichan, the kindle thing is not for me. So I hope to buy some copies of your book next Christmas!

            • thanks guys

              i confess i need a kick up the proverbial backside to get on with this

              your prods do help

      • Our whole system is based on future promises, and those future promises require some kind of compensation for the delay in obtaining the promise–interest, dividends, or capital gains. This is the way the “carrot” works, to make our system continue to move along.

      • smite says:

        “The ultimate problem, as I see it, as that all systems must grow (exponentially) or die.”

        Corruption only affects an exponentially growing capitalist economic system marginally.

        Once growth stops the fight for scraps and leftovers will end up becoming a exploitation-fest gouging out the guts of BAU and feeding it to the charlatans.

    • Sungr says:

      “And I see not even energy depletion as the core problem – but overpopulation in relation to (long-time) available resources.”

      So, if 30 years ago, humans were able to reduce population down to say 1.5B humans, then we would be in balance with energy & other critical resources today?

      But what if those remaining 1.5B humans in 1970 decided to accelerate total resource usage? Could those 1.5B humans eventually have ended up using more resources and generating more pollution than we do today with 8B population?

      • people exist by making “stuff” and buying/selling it to one another

        you cannot make stuff without heat

        nether can you make stuff without a profit motive.

        to make a profit you must have “more”—which effectively means more production.
        more production means
        1—more energy (heat input)
        and 2—more people to produce and consume stuff.

        The alternative is to reduce humankind to the level of a grazing cow or sheep taking from the land only what is essential to exist—no heat, light or shelter. That will come when we have exhausted every other option.

        Sorry—but there is no middle way, because the knowledge we have cannot now be taken away.

        • smite says:

          “you cannot make stuff without heat”
          Without work, you must mean?
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(thermodynamics)

          “nether can you make stuff without a profit motive.”
          Yes you can, it can be for fun (hobbyist projects) or by forced labour (slavery).

          • work at any level produces heat, however minutely

            if you manipulate any (hard) object from one shape to another, then heat must be used to do it.

            Thus if you have a piece of metal, to shape it into something else you must heat it.

            The profit motive is irrelevant.
            You either use the object yourself, or exchange it for another object which itself has been produced by heat application/maniplulation of some kind

            • smite says:

              “work at any level produces heat, however minutely”
              Mmm, ‘kay 😉

              https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/work-and-energy/work-and-energy-tutorial/v/introduction-to-work-and-energy

              “Thus if you have a piece of metal, to shape it into something else you must heat it.”
              Really?

              “The profit motive is irrelevant.
              You either use the object yourself, or exchange it for another object which itself has been produced by heat application/manipulation of some kind”

              Yes, except it has been produced using work, for example by applying power (voltage and current) for a certain amount of time to one or more electric motors. The source for the electric voltage and current could for all intents and purposes be a generator at a hydro power station.

            • Tango Oscar says:

              Profits are always to the detriment of something or someone else. It should be redefined as a synonym for lying, cheating, and stealing in order to exploit the environment or enslave other living beings.

            • absolutely

              my profit is always someone else’s loss—however remotely

      • Ert says:

        So, if 30 years ago, humans were able to reduce population down to say 1.5B humans, then we would be in balance with energy & other critical resources today?

        I think there is no balance to reach with 1,5 Billion people. But at least it would extend the game and give us more time to act to extend the game further.

        But what if those remaining 1.5B humans in 1970 decided to accelerate total resource usage? Could those 1.5B humans eventually have ended up using more resources and generating more pollution than we do today with 8B population?

        If all of those 1.5 Billion would life like the (better of) people in the G-7, then yes – it could be worse.

        • Sungr says:

          Humans may have spent more time in the honeymoon zone- ie the 1960s period of large oil discoveries may have lasted longer. Of course, humans usually adapt quickly to such conditions and regard them as normal.

          Maybe the Rodeo Drive lifestyle would have become the average human experience for a few decades? More air travel, faster cars, bigger houses, hyper-real video games, romantic robots, underwater resorts, vacations on the moons of Uranus, bigger wars, better recreational drugs, etc.

          And the result would be the same as now. Except with a bigger downside collapse.

          • smite says:

            You forgot AI surpassing human intelligence and human cyborg “enhancements”. It all sounds cool to me. Let’s cut even deeper, lets say, just leave the owners of this show and a few technicians, scientists and engineers to keep the wheels turning of the technomachinery.

            I would like to see how deep this rabbit hole goes. I’m bored watching the halfwits in their squirrel wheels cranking out yet another revolution in the circle of monkey business.

            Let there be rain.

        • Tim Groves says:

          Was this guy an exemplary Finite Worlder or not?

          “Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction; and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague, advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and ten thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow, levels the population with the food of the world.”

          — Thomas Malthus

    • Fast Eddy says:

      Naomi is the Minister of Hopium Production in DelusiSTAN.

    • The fact that humans have managed to remove limits to population growth plays an important role in our predicament as well.

    • Crates says:

      Good points. We must understand that the problems can be solved but the phenomena can only be observed (better with a beer in hand).
      This is what engineers and many others do not accept.
      And we happily understood this physical reality, they call us as doomsayers, losers, pessimistic, negative and defeatist.

      In the photo we see engineers, politicians and activists seeking “solutions”.

      • Tango Oscar says:

        If by problem solving you are referring to the rearrangement of the chairs on the Titanic deck you would be correct. There are way, way too many problems to solve now. Let me know when you figure out the overpopulation problem first as that’s the biggest problem.

        • Crates says:

          Tango, overpopulation is a natural phenomenon, not a problem. That is why they are not solvable, something like the question of gravity: it is observed, studied, measured and nothing else can do.
          Those who believe it is a problem, and therefore susceptible to be solved something, come to solutions as stupid as those proposed by the Club of Rome. It seems (there to confirm) that the solution is to give $ 80,000 to each woman without children. It seems that lately the “intellectuals” of the Club of Rome vie for being the biggest blunder saying.

          http://www.clubofrome.org/report/reinventing-prosperity/

          • Crates says:

            Highly recommended viewing video. I guess they have already seen.
            We observe the evolution of an epidemic that has been done with full control of the situation from the year 1800 approx. It’s really epic!
            And some propose solutions … lol.

    • psile says:

      I particularly like this comment from A.S. Christensen’s blog:

      “A lot of bright people are in denial and agree with Klein.
      Klein has no need for denial because she’s not very bright.”

      Sums it up pretty well, don’t you think?

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    Kashagan economically viable with prices for oil at $100 per barrel

    Kashagan oil project in the Caspian offshore will be economically viable with oil rices standing at $100 per barrel, a Tengrinews.kz journalist reports, citing Sauat Mynbayev, KazMunaiGas Chairman of the Board.

    “When it comes to economic viability of the Kashagan project, it is a complicated project calling for susbtantial investments. To the best of my knowlege, it can be economically viable with oil prices standing at $100 per barrel. In the long term the figures are acceptable for the subcontractors (…) the formal contract life is up to 2041; however, the actual production could be extended for another 50 years. Both Tengiz and Karachaganak oilfields are effective projects, with the break even point being much lower that of Kashagan. Both projects are profitable even with the current prices for oil in place”, he said.

    https://en.tengrinews.kz/finance/Kashagan-economically-viable-with-prices-for-oil-at-100-per-258906/

    Oil market braces for Kashagan field’s October debut

    Kazakhstani project, designed in $100 crude era, to pour more crude into oversupplied market

    Originally scheduled to cost about $10bn to develop the projects costs have exploded over two decades to more than $50bn.

    It first began pumping in 2013 when it was already eight years over schedule, but quickly stopped due to a series of internal pipeline leaks.

    The oil is under high pressure and has high levels of corrosive toxic gas that have complicated its extraction.

    But if it is now gearing up for production, estimates for how much oil will flow still vary. Italy’s Eni, which is the consortium leader in a project that also includes Total, and China’s CNPC, estimates 360,000 barrels per day by the middle of next year.

    https://www.ft.com/content/2bd59d5e-790b-11e6-a0c6-39e2633162d5

    So….. the project needs $100 oil to break even… oil is below $50….

    Is this one of those scenarios where you make up the difference by pumping more volume????

    Me thinks that the central banks are doing whatever it takes — and not telling us what they are doing — to make up the difference with this and a range of other oil projects (shale…) that lose a bundle on every barrel they pull out of the ground.

    Not unexpected….

    • Ert says:

      @FE

      The investment is already done… the money is spend. So now its only about keeping up the game and hope – then if they would stop then the “lost investment” had to be realized in the books – and that can not be allowed.

      It was the same with the housing market and the foreclosures in the US… extend, pretend and hope for the next wave.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Understood… although it is not like the oil that comes out of there is now produced for free….

        Perhaps the central banks have extended NIRP terms to the producers…. so that the 50B sunk costs are now an asset not a liability….

        Anything is possible in a world where you get paid to run up debt 🙂

    • Sungr says:

      360,000bopd = 131M bbl/year.

      That’s enough oil to keep Equatorial Guinea humming along quite nicely.

    • Central banks will try to do whatever they can do–succeed is much more doubtful. There are a bunch of these projects that were started long ago, when it looked like oil prices would be high. With so much in sunk costs, companies can’t afford to walk away. Local governments have little alternative for future productive output, either. All they can do is cross their fingers and hope.

  6. Yoshua says:

    ConocoPhillips is a pure-play exploration & production company.This company could perhaps be used as model for how the global average oil extraction part of oil production is doing with oil prices at $50 per barrel.

    I have been looking at their Cash Flow Statement.

    The Operating Cash Flow has been falling with the falling oil price. But they still had a positive Operating Cash Flow at $7.5 billion in 2015.

    The Investing Cash Flow after Capex was negative at $8.5 billion in 2015.

    The Financing Cash Flow after paying out dividends and taking on debt was negative at $1.5 billion in 2015.

    The Free Cash Flow was then negative at $2.5 billion in 2015.

    So it looks like it’s not possible for ConocoPhillips to continue to produce oil with oil prices at $50 dollars per barrel. But I guess they could go on producing oil as long as they have a positive Operating Cash Flow and can take on more debt to pay dividends and pay for the capex.

    But what happens when the Operating Cash Flow turns negative as well ?

    http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/Stock/COP/financials/cash-flow

    • Ert says:

      @Yoshua

      Your statement / analysis goes in the direction of my comment above to FE’s post.

      “But I guess they could go on producing oil as long as they have a positive Operating Cash Flow and can take on more debt to pay dividends and pay for the capex.”

      Absolutely!

      You ask then: “But what happens when the Operating Cash Flow turns negative as well ?”

      I would assume / guess, that they then eat into their core capital base. Reduce investments, exploration, repairs, administration and the like… starvation to death with intermediate “refuelings” of debt when oil prices bounce up for a short times.

      • Yoshua says:

        Yes, I think you are right. I think that is just what they must do.

        I guess also that we will see a new round of QE from the Fed to pump in new money into the oil companies to keep them alive when they can’t make it anymore. The oil must continue to flow…

        The question is: Who will keep foreign state owned oil companies financed with new debt when they can’t make it anymore ?

      • Sungr says:

        “You ask then: “But what happens when the Operating Cash Flow turns negative as well ?”

        You just call up your captured Texas congressman and ask him if he is planning to run for re-election next year. Then you explain to him that this type of industry problem is the reason he was elected to Congress to solve and that if he can’t fix it, he will be selling used cars come next election cycle.

    • MM says:

      I do not see a financial problem as we have negative corporate bonds already. When you borrow, you earn money! We will never have a financial problem, Only physics is applicable and the net energy from oil or to say the net GDP value is still positive. The numbers in balance sheets are of no more interest at all.

      • Yoshua says:

        Negative corporate bonds becomes the new profit engine for corporations ?

      • Sungr says:

        “When you borrow, you earn money! ”

        Only for high-status financial criminals……!

      • I am afraid that financial numbers are important, because that is the way we “keep score” in the real world. That is what determines where investment is made, and how many workers will be hired. We are dealing with a networked system, and the financial system is an important part of the total. It is often hard for people coming from an engineering perspective to see this.

    • Good points!

      This same thing is happening around the world. When oil exporters encounter this situation, it is government tax revenue, as much as anything, that is suffering from the low oil prices. The oil companies can cover there operating expenses, and so continue to drill, as long as they can cover their major spending needs with more debt and or with funds put away for a “rainy day.” But at some point, this approach begins to fail. Often, it will be the governments that fail first, because they depend on this tax revenue.

      • Yoshua says:

        The U.S government can “always” take on more debt in dollars ( in its own currency) to cover for the loss in taxes ?
        But foreign nations dependent on oil exports to obtain dollars and tax revenue from oil sales are perhaps in more difficult situation ?

        • The USA has the unique position of being the reserve currency. The rules that normally apply, do not apply to them. Likewise, Japan, with its huge personal savings plus the carry-trade, is able to keep borrowing when by all rights it should not be able to do so without creating hyperinflation.

          Oil exporters do not have the scale, influence, etc to be able to thwart the standard rules. Except perhaps Saudi Arabia.

          • not that ”normal rules do not apply to them”

            instead ”normal rules take longer to apply to them”

            that is part of the denial factor that will steepen the slope of the ultimate downfall

            A few remote tribes in S America or the Kalahari or australia might flout the rules—the rest of us can’t

  7. Simon Edmonds says:

    Good article Gail, you mentioned subsidies for renewables but not for fossil fuels, which they say amounts to about 500 billion dollars approximately, would this not effect tax income.

    • Fossil fuels are taxed very heavily–in quite a few places, as much as 90% of what oil companies have left, after they pay their regular expenses. This chart shows the “government take” in 2013, as a percentage of the amount that oil companies have left. This is why, with low oil prices, oil exporters are in terrible financial shape– they are losing their major source of tax revenue. Even in the US, taxes are relatively high on oil.

      Government take percentages

      What are called “Subsidies” for fossil fuels relate to forgiveness of essentially the high tax dollars for certain individuals. Typically, oil exporters “subsidize” the price of fuel for the people living in their country by not charging the full world price (which would allow the local governments to collect a high tax on the oil). Instead, they charge people in their country a price closer to the actual cost of extraction.

      Another type of subsidy occurs in oil importing countries, when there are programs to help low income people pay their fuel bills. These are subsidies, or a sort, but don’t change the picture materially. The amount of subsidies is tiny next to the taxes collected.

      Renewables pay very little or no taxes at all. In fact, they often get special treatment so that they don’t pay state or local taxes. Subsidies are over and above this, so that they are essentially paying negative taxes. This is very different from the fossil fuel situation.

      We need to be shown what each of these groups is actually paying in taxes net of subsidies, not the subsidies by themselves.

      Solar panels made in China seem to be subsidized by the government. The US and EU have both imposed tariffs under anti-dumping laws.

  8. Fast Eddy says:

    THE DEATH OF THE BAKKEN FIELD HAS BEGUN: Means Big Trouble For The U.S.

    Some folks believe the reason for the decline in oil production at the Bakken was due to low oil prices. While this was part of the reason, the Bakken was going to peak and decline in 2016-2017 regardless of the price. This was forecasted by peak oil analyst Jean Laherrere. I wrote about this in my article below (click on image to read article)– Published, APRIL 2015.

    As we can see in the chart above, the rise and fall of Bakken oil production is very close to what Jean Laherrere forecasted several years ago (shown by the red arrow). According to Laherrere’s chart, the Bakken will be producing a lot less oil by 2020 and very little by 2025. This would also be true for the Eagle Ford Field in Texas.

    According to the most recent EIA Drilling Productivity Report, the Eagle Ford Shale Oil Field in Texas will be producing an estimated 1,026,000 barrels of oil per day in September, down from a peak of 1,708,000 barrels per day in May 2015. Thus, Eagle Ford oil production is slated to be down a stunning 40% since its peak last year.

    Do you folks see the writing on the wall here? The Bakken down 25% and the Eagle Ford down 40%. These are not subtle declines. This is much quicker than the U.S. Oil Industry or the Mainstream Media realize.

    And… it’s much worse than that:

    https://srsroccoreport.com/the-death-of-the-bakken-field-has-begun-big-trouble-for-the-u-s/

    It seems these projections are way off…..

    • Curt Kurschus says:

      As mentioned in the article, it had already been noted prior to the collapse in the price of oil that the tight oil production in the USA was looking likely to start a steep decline in 2016. Some were more generously suggesting by 2020. That was based on the geology and physics of tight oil. The price declines merely brought that forward. The important take home point, of course, is that all the hype about the return to increase in extraction / production being just around the corner as soon as OPEC and Russia freeze production can never be more than hype.

      Not that anybody seems to care about such insignificant details as geology and physics.

      My mother is a highly intelligent woman, but even she believes there will be flying cars one day. Why? The reason is simple: everybody needs to believe in perpetual progress. Take your pick as to the reason for that one. For some it is a natural part of being human. For others it is to excuse the debts accrued and the investments made. Another big reason is that positive thinking is more friendly and comforting than facing reality – and more likely to see that bill on the table being paid on time.

    • I have to believe that cutting back on the number of drilling rigs had something to do with the decline as well.

      There are some parts of the Bakken which are considered “sweet spots,” and others that are economic if the price is high enough. If the price had been $200 per barrel, I still think that more would have been extracted.

    • Yoshua says:

      I’m wondering how heavy oil and tar sands will be transported if they are not diluted with LTO in the future if the shale oil production collapses ?

      • richard says:

        You heat the pipeline, via steam, trace heating or induced electrical current.
        I hope Iunderstood the question correctly.

        • Veggie says:

          “You heat the pipeline, via steam, trace heating or induced electrical current.
          I hope understood the question correctly.”

          Incorrect….
          The cost of making enough steam or electricity to heat a pipeline would be far greater than the value of the goods being transported. Dilution is the only method that works for tar sand bitumen. The whole Tar Sand infrastructure is built around diluted liquid transport.

          • I know that in California, there is (or was) a heated pipeline that takes heavy oil from the Bakersfield area up to a refinery in San Francisco. The oil is not as heavy as the bitumen in Canada, however. The distance is shorter too. A heated pipeline was discussed for the Alaskan pipelines that is having problems with depletion, back when oil prices were much higher. That oil is also not very viscous, if heated a little.

  9. dolph - if you can't beat them, join them says:

    There is nothing sustainable. There never was, never will be.
    Those who understand this (even if only subconsciously) chose to get rich over the past 20, 30 years, and in the process consume billions of years of accumulated carbon, creating debts that no human civilization will ever repay.

    You’ll be dead. I’ll be dead. Your children will be dead. This it folks, it’s all or nothing. Whatever your station in life, enjoy what you can because there will be little to nothing left in 50, 100 years. Do not waste a single second of your time preparing or being responsible. Make as much money as you possibly can, consume as much as you possibly can. Earn and spend, earn and spend, every day, month, and year.
    We are totally, completely out of control, and better for it, because at least we are not utopian. At least it is now out in the open…all of us will grab whatever we can before we die.

    Interesting to live at the end, isn’t it? Knowing that this is the end, I wonder why any of you are pretending this is the beginning or middle. There is no future, you really need to understand that.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++

      dolph – you are now on Team Doom!

    • Sungr says:

      “At least it is now out in the open…all of us will grab whatever we can before we die. This it folks, it’s all or nothing. Whatever your station in life, enjoy what you can because there will be little to nothing left in 50, 100 years.”

      Don’t forget that Earth has millions of species that will be coming under extinction pressures due to this human party. Maybe we shouldn’t go out of our way to make things more difficult for them.

    • Volvo740 says:

      Downsizing and living within your means has very positive effects too for some at least. Debt free == happiness. At least for me.

    • Tim Groves says:

      Dolph, I’m really not a hopeful man, but it is my fond wish that we will survive at lest until Norman’s book comes out in paperback.

Comments are closed.