Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar

How should electricity from wind turbines and solar panels be evaluated? Should it be evaluated as if these devices are stand-alone devices? Or do these devices provide electricity that is of such low quality, because of its intermittency and other factors, that we should recognize the need for supporting services associated with actually putting the electricity on the grid? This question comes up in many types of evaluations, including Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI), Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and Energy Payback Period (EPP).

I recently gave a talk called The Problem of Properly Evaluating Intermittent Renewable Resources (PDF) at a BioPhysical Economics Conference in Montana. As many of you know, this is the group that is concerned about Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROI). As you might guess, my conclusion is that the current methodology is quite misleading. Wind and solar are not really stand-alone devices when it comes to providing the kind of electricity that is needed by the grid. Grid operators, utilities, and backup electricity providers must provide hidden subsidies to make the system really work.

This problem is currently not being recognized by any of the groups evaluating wind and solar, using techniques such as LCOE, EROI, LCA, and EPP. As a result, published results suggest that wind and solar are much more beneficial than they really are. The distortion affects both pricing and the amount of supposed CO2 savings.

One of the questions that came up at the conference was, “Is this distortion actually important when only a small amount of intermittent electricity is added to the grid?” For that reason, I have included discussion of this issue as well. My conclusion is that the problem of intermittency and the pricing distortions it causes is important, even at low grid penetrations. There may be some cases where intermittent renewables are helpful additions without buffering (especially when the current fuel is oil, and wind or solar can help reduce fuel usage), but there are likely to be many other instances where the costs involved greatly exceed the benefits gained. We need to be doing much more thoughtful analyses of costs and benefits in particular situations to understand exactly where intermittent resources might be helpful.

A big part of our problem is that we are dealing with variables that are “not independent.” If we add subsidized wind and solar, that act, by itself, changes the needed pricing for all of the other types of electricity. The price per kWh of supporting types of electricity needs to rise, because their EROIs fall as they are used in a less efficient manner. This same problem affects all of the other pricing approaches as well, including LCOE. Thus, our current pricing approaches make intermittent wind and solar look much more beneficial than they really are.

A clear workaround for this non-independence problem is to look primarily at the cost (in terms of EROI or LCOE) in which wind and solar are part of overall “packages” that produce grid-quality electricity, at the locations where they are needed. If we can find solutions on this basis, there would seem to be much more of a chance that wind and solar could be ramped up to a significant share of total electricity. The “problem” is that there is a lower bound on an acceptable EROI (probably 10:1, but possibly as low as 3:1 based on the work of Charles Hall). This is somewhat equivalent to an upper bound on the affordable cost of electricity using LCOE.

This means that if we really expect to scale wind and solar, we probably need to be creating packages of grid-quality electricity (wind or solar, supplemented by various devices to create grid quality electricity) at an acceptably high EROI. This is very similar to a requirement that wind or solar energy, including all of the necessary adjustments to bring them to grid quality, be available at a suitably low dollar cost–probably not too different from today’s wholesale cost of electricity. EROI theory would strongly suggest that energy costs for an economy cannot rise dramatically, without a huge problem for the economy. Hiding rising energy costs with government subsidies cannot fix this problem.

Distortions Become Material Very Early

If we look at recently published information about how much intermittent electricity is being added to the electric grid, the amounts are surprisingly small. Overall, worldwide, the amount of electricity generated by a combination of wind and solar (nearly all of it intermittent) was 5.2% in 2016. On an area by area basis, the percentages of wind and solar are as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Wind and solar as a share of 2016 electricity generation, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017. World total is not shown, but is very close to the percentage shown for China.

There are two reasons why these percentages are lower than a person might expect. One reason is that the figures usually quoted are the amounts of “generating capacity” added by wind and solar, and these are nearly always higher than the amount of actual electricity supply added, because wind and solar “capacity” tend to be lightly used.

The other reason that the percentages on Figure 1 are lower than we might expect is because the places that have unusually high concentrations of wind and solar generation (examples: Germany, Denmark, and California) tend to depend on a combination of (a) generous subsidy programs, (b) the availability of inexpensive balancing power from elsewhere and (c) the generosity of neighbors in taking unwanted electricity and adding it to their electric grids at low prices.

As greater amounts of intermittent electricity are added, the availability of inexpensive balancing capacity (for example, from hydroelectric from Norway and Sweden) quickly gets exhausted, and neighbors become more and more unhappy with the amounts of unwanted excess generation being dumped on their grids. Denmark has found that the dollar amount of subsidies needs to rise, year after year, if it is to continue its intermittent renewables program.

One of the major issues with adding intermittent renewables to the electric grid is that doing so distorts wholesale electricity pricing. Solar energy tends to cut mid-day peaks in electricity price, making it less economic for “peaking plants” (natural gas electricity plants that provide electricity only when prices are very high) to stay open. At times, prices may turn negative, if the total amount of wind and solar produced at a given time is greater than the overall amount of electricity required by customers. This happens because intermittent electricity is generally given priority on the grid, whether price signals indicate that it is needed or not. A combination of these problems tends to make backup generation unprofitable unless subsidies are provided. If peaking plants and other backup are still required, but need to operate fewer hours, subsidies must be provided so that the plants can afford to hire year-around staff, and pay their ongoing fixed expenses.

If we think of the new electricity demand as being “normal” demand, adjusted by the actual, fairly random, wind and solar generation, the new demand pattern ends up having many anomalies. One of the anomalies is that required prices become negative at times when wind and solar generation are high, but the grid has no need for them. This tends to happen first on weekends in the spring and fall, when electricity demand is low. As the share of intermittent electricity grows, the problem with negative prices becomes greater and greater.

The other major anomaly is the need for a lot of quick “ramp up” and “ramp down” capacity. One time this typically happens is at sunset, when demand is high (people cooking their dinners) but a large amount of solar electricity disappears because of the setting of the sun. For wind, rapid ramp ups and downs seem to be related to thunderstorms and other storm conditions. California and Australia are both adding big battery systems, built by Tesla, to help deal with rapid ramp-up and ramp-down problems.

There is a lot of work on “smart grids” being done, but this work does not address the particular problems brought on by adding wind and solar. In particular, smart grids do not move demand from summer and winter (when demand is normally high) to spring and fall (when demand is normally low). Smart grids and time of day pricing aren’t very good at fixing the rapid ramping problem, either, especially when these problems are weather related.

The one place where time of day pricing can perhaps be somewhat helpful is in lessening the rapid ramping problem of solar at sunset. One fix that is currently being tried is offering the highest wholesale electricity prices in the evening (6:00 pm to 9:00 pm), rather than earlier in the day. This approach encourages those adding new solar energy generation to add their panels facing west, rather than south, so as to better match demand. Doing this is less efficient from the point of view of the total electricity generated by the panels (and thus lowers EROIs of the solar panels), but helps prevent some of the rapid ramping problem at sunset. It also gets some of the generation moved from the middle of day to the evening, when it better matches “demand.”

In theory, the high prices from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm might encourage consumers to move some of their electricity usage (cooking dinner, watching television, running air conditioning) until after 9:00 pm. But, as a practical matter, it is difficult to move very much of residential demand to the desired time slots based on price. In theory, demand could also be moved from summer and winter to spring and fall based on electricity price, but it is hard to think of changes that families could easily make that would allow this change to happen.

With the strange demand pattern that occurs when intermittent renewables are added, standard pricing approaches (based on marginal costs) tend to produce wholesale electricity prices that are too low for electricity produced by natural gas, coal, and nuclear providers. In fact, wholesale electricity rates for supporting providers tend to diverge further and further from what is needed, as more and more intermittent electricity is added. The dotted line on Figure 2 illustrates the falling wholesale electricity prices that have been occurring in Europe, even as retail residential electricity prices are rising.

Figure 2. European residential electricity prices have risen, even as wholesale electricity prices (dotted line) have fallen. Chart by Paul-Frederik Bach.

The marginal pricing scheme gives little guidance as to how much backup generation is really needed. It is therefore left up to governments and local electricity oversight groups to figure out how to compensate for the known pricing problem. Some provide subsidies to non-intermittent producers; others do not.

To complicate matters further, electricity consumption has been falling rapidly in countries whose economies are depressed. Adding wind and solar further reduces needed natural gas, coal, and nuclear generation. Some countries may let these producers collapse; others may subsidize them, as a jobs-creation program, whether this backup generation is needed or not.

Of course, if a single payer is responsible for both intermittent and other electricity programs, a combined rate can be set that is high enough for the costs of both intermittent electricity and backup generation, eliminating the pricing problem, from the point of view of electricity providers. The question then becomes, “Will the new higher electricity prices be affordable by consumers?”

The recently published IEA World Energy Investment Report 2017 provides information on a number of developing problems:

“Network investment remains robust for now, but worries have emerged in several regions about the prospect of a ‘utility death spiral’ as the long-term economic viability of grid investments diminishes. The still widespread regulatory practice of remunerating fixed network assets on the basis of a variable per kWh charge is poorly suited for a power system with a large amount of decentralised solar PV and storage capacity.”

The IEA investment report notes that in China, 10% of solar PV and 17% of wind generation were curtailed in 2016, even though previous problems with lack of transmission had been fixed. Figure 1 shows China’s electricity from wind and solar amounts to only 5.0% of its total electricity consumption in 2016.

Regarding India, the IEA report says, “More flexible conventional capacity, including gas-fired plants, better connections with hydro resources and investment in battery storage will be needed to support continued growth in solar power.” India’s intermittent electricity amounted to only 4.1% of total electricity supply in 2016.

In Europe, a spike in electricity prices to a 10-year high took place in January 2017, when both wind and solar output were low, and the temperature was unusually cold. And as previously mentioned, California and South Australia have found it necessary to add Tesla batteries to handle rapid ramp-ups and ramp-downs. Australia is also adding large amounts of transmission that would not have been needed, if coal generating plants had continued to provide services in South Australia.

None of the costs related to intermittency workarounds are currently being included in EROI analyses. They are generally not being included in analyses of other kinds, either, such as LCOE. In my opinion, the time has already arrived when analyses need to be performed on a much broader basis than in the past, so as to better capture the true cost of adding intermittent electricity.

Slide 1

Slide 2

Slide 3

Slide 4

Of course, as we saw in the introduction, worldwide electricity supply is only about 5% wind and solar. The only parts of the world that were much above 5% in 2016 were Europe, which was at 11.3% in 2016 and the United States, which was at 6.6%.

There has been a lot of talk about electrical systems being operated entirely by renewables (such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, and burned biomass), but these do not exist in practice, as far as I know. Trying to replace total energy consumption, including oil and natural gas usage, would be an even bigger problem.

Slide 5

The amount of electricity required by consumers varies considerably over the course of a year. Electricity demand tends to be higher on weekdays than on weekends, when factories and schools are often closed. There is usually a “peak” in demand in winter, when it is unusually cold, and second peak in summer, when it is unusually hot. During the 24-hour day, demand tends to be lowest at night. During the year, the lowest demand typically comes on weekends in the spring and fall.

If intermittent electricity from W&S is given first priority on the electric grid, the resulting “net” demand is far more variable than the original demand pattern based on customer usage. This increasingly variable demand tends to become more and more difficult to handle, as the percentage of intermittent electricity added to the grid rises.

Slide 6

EROI is nearly always calculated at the level of the solar panel or wind turbine, together with a regular inverter and whatever equipment is used to hold the device in place. This calculation does not consider all of the costs in getting electricity to the right location, and up to grid quality. If we move clockwise around the diagram, we see some of the problems as the percentage of W&S increases.

One invention is smart inverters, which are used to bring the quality of the electrical output up closer to grid quality, apart from the intermittency problems. Germany has retrofitted solar PV with these, because of problems it encountered using only “regular” inverters. Upgrading to smart inverters would be a cost not generally included in EROI or LCOE calculations.

The next problem illustrated in Slide 6 is the fact that the pricing system does not work for any fuel, if wind and solar are given priority on the electric grid. The marginal cost approach that is usually used gives too low a wholesale price for every producer subject to this pricing scheme. The result is a pricing system that gives misleadingly low price signals. Regulators are generally aware of this issue, but don’t have a good way of fixing it. Capacity payments are used in some places as an attempted workaround, but it is not clear that such payments really solve the problem.

It is less obvious that in addition to giving too low pricing indications for electricity, the current marginal cost pricing approach indirectly gives artificially low price indications regarding the required prices for natural gas and coal as fuels. As a result of this and other forces acting in the same directions, we end up with a rather bizarre situation:  (a) Natural gas and and coal prices tend to fall below their cost of production. (b) At the same time, nuclear electricity generating plants are being forced to close, because they cannot afford to compete with the artificially low price of electricity produced by the very low-priced natural gas and coal. The whole system tends to be pushed toward collapse by misleadingly low wholesale electricity prices.

Slide 6 also shows some of the problems that seem to start arising as more intermittent electricity is added. Once new long distance transmission lines are added, it changes the nature of the whole “game.” It becomes easier to rely on generation added by a neighbor; any generation that a country might add becomes more attractive to a neighbor. As long as there is plenty of electricity to go around, everything goes well. When there are shortages, then arguments begin to arise. Arguments such as these may destabilize the Eurozone.

One thing I did not mention in this chart is the increasing need to pay intermittent grid providers not to produce electricity when there is an oversupply of electricity. In the UK, the amount of these payments was over 1 million pounds a week in 2015.  I mentioned previously that in China, 17% of wind generation and 10% of solar PV generation were being curtailed in 2016. EROI calculations do not consider this possibility; they assume that 100% of the electricity that is generated can, in fact, be used by the system.

Slide 7

The pricing system no longer works because W&S are added whenever they become available, in preference to other generation. In many ways, the pricing system is like our appetite for food. Usually, we eat when we are hungry, and the food we eat reduces our appetite. W&S are added to the system with total disregard for whether the system needs it or not, leaving the other electricity producers to try to fix up the mess, using the false pricing signals they get. The IEA’s 2017 Investment Report recommends that countries develop new pricing schemes that correct the problems, but it is not clear that this is actually possible without correcting the hidden subsidies.

Slide 8

Why add more electricity supply, if there is a chance that you can use the new supply added by your neighbor?

Slide 9

South Australia had two recent major outages–both partly related to adding large amounts of wind and solar to the electric grid, and the loss of its last two coal-fired electricity generation plants. The first big outage came during a weather event. The second big outage occurred when temperatures were very high during summer, and because of this, electricity demand was very high.

One planned workaround for supply shortages was natural gas. Unfortunately, South Australia doesn’t actually have a very good natural gas supply to operate its units generating electricity from natural gas. Thus, the available natural gas generators could not really respond as hoped, except at very high prices. Some changes are now being made, including a planned Tesla battery system. With the changes being made, there are reports of electricity rate increases of up to 120% for businesses in South Australia.

The irony of the situation is that Australia is a major natural gas exporter. Businesses expected that they could make more money selling the natural gas abroad as LNG than they could by providing natural gas to the citizens of South Australia. These exports are now being curbed, to try to help fix the South Australia natural gas problem.

These issues point out how interconnected all of the different types of electricity generation are, and how quickly a situation can become a local crisis, if regulators simply assume “market forces will provide a solution.”

Slide 10

An expert panel in Australia has recommended an approach similar to this. It simply becomes too difficult to operate a system with built-in subsidies.

Slide 11

Slide 12

Timing makes a difference. The payments that are made for interest need to be made, directly or indirectly, with future goods and services that can only be made using energy products. Thus, they also require the use of energy products.

Slide 13

Slide 14

There is a real difference between (a) looking at the actual operating experiences of an existing oil and gas or coal company, and (b) guessing what the future operating experience of a system operated by wind panels and solar panels might be. The tendency is to guess low, when it comes to envisioning what future problems may arise.

It is not just the wind turbines and solar panels that will need to be replaced over time; it is all of the supporting devices that need to be kept in good repair and replaced over time. Furthermore, the electric grid is dependent on oil for its upkeep. If oil becomes a problem, there is a real danger that the electric grid will become unusable, and with it, electricity that is generally distributed by the grid, including wind and solar.

Slide 15

Slide 16

Economies and humans are both self-organized systems that depend on energy consumption for their existence. They have many other characteristics in common as well.

Slide 17

We know that with humans, we really need to examine how a new medicine or a change in diet works in practice. For one thing, medicines and diets aren’t necessarily used as planned. Unexpected long-term changes occur that we could not anticipate.

Slide 18

The same kinds of problems occur when wind and solar are added to a grid system. We really have to look at what is happening to see the full picture.

Slide 19

Anyone who has followed the news knows about medicine’s long history of announcements followed by retractions.

Slide 20

A fairly similar situation can be expected to happen with proposed energy solutions.

Slide 21

There is a whole package of costs and a whole range of direct and indirect outcomes to consider.

Slide 22

As far as I know, none of the attempts at producing a system that operates on 100% renewable energy have been a success. There has been some reductions in fossil fuel usage, but at a high cost.

Slide 23

2013 Weissabach et al. EROI analysis examines a situation with partial buffering of wind and solar (approximately 10 days worth of buffering). It leaves out several other costs of bringing wind and solar up to grid quality electricity, such as extra long distance transmission costs, and more significant buffering to allow transferring electricity produced in spring and fall to be saved for summer or winter. These authors calculated a partially buffered EROI of 4:1 for wind, and a partially buffered EROI range of 1.5:1 to 2.3:1 for solar PV.

Of course, more investigation, including looking at the full package of needed devices to provide non-intermittent electricity of grid quality, is really needed for particular situations. Improvements in technology would tend to raise EROI indications; adding more supplemental devices to bring electricity to grid quality would tend to reduce EROI indications.

If the cutoff for being able to maintain a modern society is 10:1, as mentioned earlier, then wind and solar PV would both seem to fall far below the required EROI cutoff, if they are to be used in quantity.

If, as Hall believes, an EROI as low as 3:1 might be useful, then there is a possibility that some wind energy would be helpful, especially if a particular wind location has a very high capacity factor (can generate electricity a large share of the time), and if pricing problems can be handled adequately. The EROI of solar PV would probably still be too low in most applications. In any event, we need to be examining situations more closely, instead of simply assuming that hidden subsidies can be counted on indefinitely.

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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3,302 Responses to Researchers have been underestimating the cost of wind and solar

  1. Cliffhanger says:

    Here is how I think the collapse will happen
    1. Oil shortages
    2.Massive Price Spike
    3.No quick/easy/solutions from leaders
    4.mass hysteria + loss of confidence
    5.Economic Collapse

    • Lastcall says:

      For me;
      1) Increasing political gridlock (ungovernable globally important countries)
      2) Resulting in extraordinary capital flight; into brat coin, gold, dollars, realestate
      3) Stock market free-fall
      4) Currency crises/loss of trust leading to bank runs
      5) Freeze up of lines of credit/trade and therefore energy flows
      6) Shortages of essentials incl. wages, food, energy,
      7) Chaos…collapse, turning on minorities, elites, charlatans and the ‘I told you so messengers’ and the blame game turns to hunger games.

      • Lastcall says:

        I think these two links demonstrate how loss of trust will make US ungovernable.

        The first is a scramble to get it before its gone; pension meltdown is on its way!

        The second shows how dis-United the US has become, as have many other countries. The political debate all over the western world is going ‘gloves-off’ as people start to realise how they have been played.
        In NZ we have just seen ‘Jacinderella’ elected as Labour leader in a desperate move to gain votes from the working classes, especially females. But this is the same party that had the first in the world free trade agreement with China, thereby destroying blue-collar jobs. Now they offer new taxes and welfare guarantees, not job opportunities in order to get votes.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          In light of that I will carry on with my tradition of not voting because it doesn’t matter.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        That sounds about right.

        I am actually quite pleased to know that the radiation will arrive soon after this…. we will be begging to be put out of our misery

      • we have been living on the products of cheap surplus oil.

        oil now costs 5 times what it used to when it powered the American Dream
        (oil gave an EROEI of 100:1, now the best returns are 20:1–hence the x5 –at best)

        right now we are trying to maintain that living on expensive oil, while denying the problem exists at all, and maintaining the certainty that if we print enough money, we will always have enough energy.—– Despite only finding 10% of the oil necessary to replace what we use.

        This denial must lead to civil disorder and open conflict, long before energy resources fail, because the demand is there that our lifestyle must go on as it always has.

        Various factions offer various promises, so support gravitates to one or the other. They then fight to prove whichever is right, thus destroying whatever might be used to sustain some kind of viable society.

        So all of the above chaos factors will manifest themselves, It’s just impossible to say by how much and when and how.

        • Artleads says:

          Such disorder and non-cohesion would be like when a crowded theatre has fire and there is no queue to the exit door. But that isn’t just a problem for the elite. We’ve seen how Walmart Black Friday crowds can behave. There’s a great deal to be said for order over PC niceties of all sorts.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          ‘This denial must lead to civil disorder and open conflict, long before energy resources fail, because the demand is there that our lifestyle must go on as it always has.’

          Reading about depletion rates hitting the shale patch and observing the situation in KSA which is giving out signals that they are past peak….

          I am beginning to wonder if the oil issue is not the trigger rather than the financial situation

          Recall conventional peaked in 2005 — oil went to $147 — and soon after calamity struck.

          Around the time I read this Rubin of course has the big picture completely wrong but he did suggest that the price of oil was the culprit…..

          Can the CBs hold the economy together until such point as the total supply of oil starts to fall off significantly — causing the price of oil to shoot up as it did in 2007…

          But this time Drill Baby Drill and trillions of dollars cannot happen — because the shale patch is past peak….

          And the high priced oil within a few months leads to a deflationary death spiral.

          Or maybe the CBs just lose control of the global economy overnight and we enter the death spiral.

          We shall see

          • Lastcall says:

            Maybe, but I assume the powers that be will ‘print n drill’ as a new form of QE thereby controlling the oil price. This will increase the volume of financially viable oil.

            This expands the zombie economy away from just the FIRE sectors and in fact bypasses them in order to ensure the energy flow continues. The government could claim it as a direct investment in infrastructure to jump-start the economy. More like defribillation.

    • timl2k11 says:

      I really can’t imagine mass hysteria with a population of 7.5+ billion would be like. It will make a zombie apocalypse look like child’s play. I wonder if there will be a faux show of confidence in the interim. Posturing. I suppose that could be what we did an Iraq, the last gasp of empire has already taken place.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        This is Riot Lite…. only because the police are present….

        Now imagine that with no police — and heavily armed citizens as we have in many countries including the USA…

        When the lights go out and the police leave their posts —- this is gonna go f789ing NUTS!

        All of that scum that lurks below the surface of the civilized world that all of us live in — will be on the lose…. and don’t expect any help from the government — the top guys will be in the bunkers… and when the power goes off there will be chaos — everyone else will be headed home to fend for their families….

        • Fast Eddy says:


        • JMS says:

          My only doubt has to do with precisely this, what will be a social collapse in an ethnically cohesive country and where firearms are illegal, as is mine? What difference can it make to face a band of starving men armed with knives and machetes, or the same pack armed with shotguns? I don’t really know. In any case it seems to me the situation will be more dramatic in a country where there are 300 million weapons, than in a country where access to weapons and ammunition is very restricted, as is the case in mine, where only the military have free acess to both.
          Of course in the end we will all be dead, but the way and probably the timing of this event will be different according to the country, the region, we live.
          Personally I have any hope of survival, for I do not live in a community sufficiently cohesive and isolated to be able to withstand, even for a couple of months, waves of aggressive invaders. No way. But I’m inclined to believe that the situatiin will be slightly different depending on the place you live.
          If I could (ie. if i was young and rich), I would move to the interior of Brazil, to almost deserted states like Pará or Mato Grosso, where the population density is 4 inhabitants per km2. Even there, I personally wouldn’t survive, but I’m sure the probabilties would be much bigger there than, say, in Los Angeles or in Chicago.
          Anyway, we can’t say we dont live in exciting times. Oh the suspense of it al!!

          • Artleads says:

            If you live in a cluster of small, dense and orderly communities (where everybody can see who’s coming) you might do better still. With no self-sufficiently skills, trying to hang on in the boonies would be more than daunting.

  2. Cliffhanger says:

    • Cliffhanger says:

      Only Morons Believe What The US Government Says About North Korea
      View story at

      • Lastcall says:

        Great link with further links to some sobering info. Good to remind ourselves sometimes as so much is happening so quickly it can take your breath and memory away!

        • Cliffhanger says:

          The drums of war and collapse are beating louder and faster every day.

          • Kurt says:

            Eh, I’m just not feeling it. Lots of posturing, that’s all. Also, the comments do lean towards a doomerish tone but guess what, that’s what economic collapse can lead to. However, it is difficult to predict what happens after economic collapse. That’s where things get interesting and that’s where this site does get a bit too close minded.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Ya collapse i.e. when the power goes off for good — will surely result in good things happening…

              Try turning your power off for 24 hours —- and think about that…. while you huddle in the dark….

        • Cliffhanger says:

          The plan could be to provoke North Korea to cover for the economic collapse. They could get them to drop a nuclear bomb on a major us city to cause chaos. The elites would hide in their silo’s while the public suffers. Economic problems solved, angry US population neutralized.

          • Lastcall says:

            I still think delivery via a container (already in place(s)?) is most likely scenario. Thats one idea from Druid that I agree on.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Political IQ test: What does it mean when CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the President’s Twitter account all agree that a foreign state poses a suddenly increased threat to America?

        A) If they all agree it must be true!
        B) Well I dislike some of those outlets, but I trust one of them.
        C) The US intelligence community would never lie to us.
        D) Hmm… this sounds an awful lot like the leadup to Iraq?

        The same lies repeated by the various MSM outlets…

        Ding dong ding dong…. it’s a lie… ding dong….

        • Fast Eddy says:

          That said — bombing North Korea regardless of the reason….. would be entertaining….

          Hang you some of you will be saying — what about the innocent people who will die?

          And to that I say — they won’t know it but they would be the lucky ones…. they escape from the starvation rape murder and radiation ….

          i.e. we would be doing them a favour

        • Froggman says:

          My father in law is totally sold on the NK threat narrative. He called to make sure we have food and water in our bunker (we do, of course).

          That part makes sense- yes, keep the bunker stocked. What makes no sense is that he’s worried about NK. Where we live, there are at least a thousand other places that would make more sense and be easier for them to lob a nuke at. From a country that probably has AT MOST 30 warheads, not the big ones like Russia and the US have, but little ones like Hiroshima.

          So assume 1) they have a rocket that could make it this far, 2) they have warheads small enough to fit on the rocket, 3) they can actually steer the warhead towards its target on descent. Those are all huge what-if’s. Then, maybe, they might take out a few neighborhoods in LA, a suburb in Phoenix, or god forbid the Las Vegas strip. More likely, whatever they fire just splashes harmlessly into the Pacific, or kills a bunch of scorpions and lizards in the Mojave desert.

          That’d be awful- desert lizards are beautiful creatures- but we’ve been living the past 50+ years one button push away from nuclear annihilation. There’s only 2 countries capable of wiping out the entire planet with “fire and fury the world has never seen.” One of them is us. The other is definitely NOT NK.

          Of all the problems, like world-ending, human extinction problems facing humanity right now- for this to be the thing people are worked up about is infuriating. Absolute mor.ons.

        • Greg Machala says:

          Certainly “D” is the correct answer. The plebs are being prepared for war. Certainly they are being trained to regard NK as a disposable state.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Re MSM….

            Remember way back when if you read a propaganda pieces in the MSM … well actually it is redundant to use the term propaganda piece… but anyways….

            When you read one of the endless lies that pervades the MSM…

            And you used to be able to comment on the slop?

            And then in a very short period of time that option was removed from nearly every MSM channel…. the pretext was — as Bloomberg indicated at the time — there were too many comments that were not constructive — laced with racism etc….

            Hmmm… Bloomberg employs 19,000 people It is a multi billion dollar business….

            Would it be a stretch to suggest they could afford to employ a couple of censors to review and remove inappropriate posts? For less than a thousand dollars per month they could hire some very competent people in the Philippines to handle this for them…

            Of course that is not the issue — the issue is that the MSM exists to control what we think — and because the comments section were very popular — and because there were often valid dissenting views being presented…. they had to go.

            So the MSM lies about everything …. EXCEPT G w…… which is something – even if it exists — we can do nothing about it without crashing BAU.

            Funny that…..

  3. Fast Eddy says:

    B.C. wildfires status Wednesday: More than 360 wildfires this season are human-caused

    Interesting ….

    • xabier says:

      Happens in Spain: human stupidity, and also wanting to clear the land for building and redevelopment.

    • Fast Eddy says:

      One of the biggest losers this week has been Pioneer Natural Resources Co., down 16.5 percent since reporting results on Tuesday evening. Part of the reason it was clobbered so badly is that while it merely trimmed its overall growth rate, it sharply cut its guidance for how many more barrels of higher-value oil it will produce this year. Pioneer blamed this on problems it had with what it called “train-wreck” wells suffering from changes in pressure and the amount of water coming up, forcing the company both to delay its drilling schedule and spend more to strengthen wells.

      No doubt a fair bit of vomit and acid mixed in with the oil and water….

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Pioneer Resources is one of the larger players in the Permian oil basin in Texas. According to the data put out by, Pioneer suffered a negative Free Cash Flow of $155 million Q1 and $252 million in Q2. Actually, Pioneer spent a great deal more on capital expenditures (CAPEX) in the second quarter of 2017, by investing $731 million versus $519 million in the first quarter.

        Which means, Pioneer spent $212 million more on CAPEX in the second quarter, only to suffer a larger negative free cash flow of nearly $100 million more versus the previous quarter. Of course, this makes perfect sense in our TOTALLY INSANE business world today to spend $212 million on CAPEX only to lose an additional $100 million in free cash flow.

        The just about sums up the entire oil industry ….. but then we have known this for some time:

        Steven Kopits from Douglas-Westwood said the productivity of new capital spending has fallen by a factor of five since 2000. “The vast majority of public oil and gas companies require oil prices of over $100 to achieve positive free cash flow under current capex and dividend programmes. Nearly half of the industry needs more than $120,” he said

        • Cliffhanger says:

          Yes and the Economist had an article last year claiming that the global oil and gas industry had around 2.5 in debt now. And it was the biggest risk to the worlds financial system. And just to give you an idea of how much debt that is the bank bailouts in 08 were around 600 billion. Enron was around 300 billion .

          • Davidin100trillionyears says:

            the Elites/banksters/billionaires are not going to let BAU collapse over that tiny $2.5 trillion debt that is just digits on computers in their shadow economy of finance.
            “they” will do whatever is necessary to paper over that debt so that the industry can keep producing in the real economy of work and production.

            “they” know.

            • Marcus T. Monihan says:

              “the Elites/banksters/billionaires are not going to let BAU collapse over that tiny $2.5 trillion debt that is just digits on computers in their shadow economy of finance.”

              Absolutely correct, David. The banksters have discovered that people really don’t have a clue about what can be done with money these days – essentially it’s become an anything goes type of situation with computers, simply moving digits around. It’s like magic – they can make the stuff appear in form of conjuring up money for loans and they can simply write off bad loans with the flick of a switch. Anything goes and nobody cares. 2.5 trillion debt is just as easy to eliminate as $2.50 and then they can turn around and lend 2.5 trillion out of thin air.

            • smite says:

              The physical reality will not care about any CB money printing schemes.

              Once the cheap an’ easy oil becomes hard and expensive.
              Things get worse. Just like what happens now.

              Once hard and expensive oil becomes intractable and thus worthless.
              The fun starts.

    • Cliffhanger says:

      Steve said his last article about how crappy ethanol was and caught the eye of some VP in the ethanol industry. And the VP left all these nasty comments on his articles all over the web. then emailed steve and told him how important he was etc.etc. LOL I made a small donation on his site for the great articles!

    • Davidin100trillionyearsnotGlenn says:

      first line of the article:
      “Even though U.S. shale oil production continues to reach new record highs, investors might be finally losing faith in the industry that just isn’t profitable.”

      so it’s not like the fracking industry is in its endgame.
      but more like the beginning of the end.

      and of course, IF prices move higher, this industry will have a temporary rebound.
      I think this industry will have a few more good years in the 2020’s.

      those years depend entirely on much higher prices.
      prices in the $40’s have existed since late 2014 so this low price level hasn’t been here very long.

      time will tell.

      • We have had prices below the cost needed by developers for a wide range of commodities since mid to late 2014; in other words, about three years. This includes oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, and quite a few metals. This is a big deal.

        • Greg Machala says:

          Who is investing money into these money loosing ventures?

          • smite says:

            It’s a zero sum game, everyone is “losing”.

            The real question is: Who will come out on top when this little FF:ed bonanza inevitably ends.

          • Tim Groves says:

            Presumably the Eld-ers are organizing the investment through a mix of loans and stock purchasing that spreads the loses among those entities that will benefit from the continuing availability of said commodities. I expect a fair bit of what we are paying into our pension funds ends up underwriting unprofitable mining, drilling and fracking operations.

          • i1 says:

            Well, if you can buy metal below the cost of production, it might turn out to be a sound investment.

    • Davidin100trillionyears says:

      first line of the article:
      “Even though U.S. shale oil production continues to reach new record highs, investors might be finally losing faith in the industry that just isn’t profitable.”

      so it’s not like the fracking industry is in its endgame.
      but more like the beginning of the end.

      and of course, IF prices move higher, this industry will have a temporary rebound.
      I think this industry will have a few more good years in the 2020’s.

      those years depend entirely on much higher prices.
      prices in the $40’s have existed since late 2014 so this low price level hasn’t been here very long.

      time will tell.

      • Marcus T. Monihan says:

        There have been articles and conjecture on the demise of fracking for oil for years now but they just keep fracking, so I wouldn’t bet on it.

        • Fast Eddy says:

          There have been articles for about ten years now discussing the rapid decline rates of this type of extraction that predicting that this would be a short lived industry …. many analysts predicting that right about now the industry would be running into massive problems

          And here we are….

  4. Fast Eddy says:

    new Blue Steel 309 Aug 9, 2017 7:26 PM
    TV is literally bad for your mind, regardless of the content. The content just makes it even more damaging. It is called TV “programming”, because that is what it is doing to your mind.

    new LindseyNarrates… Blue Steel 309 Aug 9, 2017 7:35 PM

    You are, for the most part, correct, Mr. Steel, and I will raise-you-the-following:

    “Hollywood” actually denotes a magical-wand, which was, generally, made from the branch of a holly tree, because it was thought to possess the most power, of all wood. When people, back-in-the-day, would talk about “the magic of Hollywood”, they were talking about its literal power over-the-minds and -of-the-character, of people viewing the propaganda produced, and that situation has not only not improved, since, then, but is far, far worse, than at any other point-in-time.

    NB: Once one is intellectually-honest-enough to admit (((who))) controls Hollyweird, and how (((their))) ABSOLUTE control over one of the most powerful organs-of-propaganda ever devised is used to control and manipulate a very large number of people, then the answer as to how we all got-to-this-point becomes so much easier to understand.

    Hmmmm…. anyone have any idea who runs Holly Wood?????? Tip; Ask Mel Gibson……

    • ftp says:

      What’s with the conspiracy theories and the antisemitic rambling?

      • I don’t really like conspiracy theories and antisemitic comments. I don’t think that they get us anywhere.

        I am sorry I haven’t had time to comment much in the last few days. I have been trying to work on a post (plus all of the usual extra things going on).

        • Marcus T. Monihan says:

          Shouldn’t FE’s post be nixed?

          • Jesse James says:

            See how quickly Marcus comes out to suggest censoring free speech.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Shouldn’t you have to pay a fee to be able to view Fast Eddy’s posts?

            Kinda like you have to pay to watch a boxing match — surely it is worth something to watch Fast Eddy beat the daylights out of DelusiSTANIS.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        A small group of British men with bad teeth ran the world for over a century.

        Do you have a problem with that comment?

        Well then…. you should not have a problem with my earlier post.

        Oh – and remember — the MSM exists to tell you what to think — apparently they have not told you that it is unacceptable to state that the British ran the world and that it is racist to even suggest such a thing.

        Now if the Brits still ran the world and controlled the MSM that might be different.

        You may recall that when the Brits did run the world that J ews were fair game — you would say you wanted about them — and you could treat them little better than cockroaches…. they were the butt of racist jokes and treated like pariahs.

        But now they control things…. and they are off limits….

        And it is ok to mock the Brits and their bad teeth.

        Funny that isn’t it?

        That’s what happens when you are a MOREon …. you are unable to Think Straight. You do exactly what you are told to do – you think EXACTLY what you are told to think.

        How do you feel about transgender washrooms — it is after all one of the most important issues of the day — fill me in on what I am supposed to think about this

        • Fast Eddy says:

          And btw — if someone wants to hand me ownership of the Fed and the MSM — I would be most happy to accept….

          And I will have no problem if people point out that I control the world….

          In fact I will call myself Master of the Universe….

          The current Masters would advise that I not do that — because doing that would make me a target…. better to remain behind the curtain … and punch anyone who tries to pull back the curtain in the face…

          But not me — i don’t care about that …. I will sit on my throne and bask in the glory of it all…. as Master of the Universe.

        • JMS says:

          People with sheep’s brains can only have flock opinions, it was for them that newspapers were invented.Sheep are skittish by nature, and there is nothing more terrifying than the naked truth. They can’t stand to be alone, dissent makes them feel uncomfortable, and therefore they must follow the herd, and bleat the memes that their shepherds implanted in their brains. They can’t help it, it’s their nature. As it is said in my country: who was born to be a gecko will never become an alligator.

        • doomphd says:

          i think the North Koreans shoud target transgender washrooms with their mini-nuke tipped ICBMs.

        • xabier says:

          The MSM is certainly rather surreal these days: an article with Trump’s latest blustering and threats of unprecedented big bangs, and next to it and just as big, the story of a transgender person’s ‘Journey’. And somewhere way down on the home page, a little piece on some further catastrophic extinction…..

          A species far too dumb to merit survival, it’s ever more obvious.

          • Artleads says:

            So what about the ideas that form systems and warp minds? 🙂 It’s mistaken, I think, to impute human behavior primarily to individual choice.

  5. Fast Eddy says:

    Just thinking… about how when I was experiencing a very hot day and I would say ‘and they say there’s no G w’

    Now when it’s a really cold day — or there is a big snowfall I say ‘and they say we are going to roast any day now due to G w’

    Learn something new every so often….

  6. Fast Eddy says:

    Oh … and I remember when I used to think the New York Times was the cats a$$$.

    And now … if I had a cat … I would use the NYT to wipe its a$$$$

    Amazing how the facts and one’s interpretation of them change over time….

    If someone had told me the NYT was only good for wiping a cats a$$$ 10 years ago — I would have thought they were a F.oxian Na…zi….

    And now I despise Libtards even more than Fo.xian Na….zis… there is something about their self righteousness … whereas Fox.ian Na…zis are just plain ste…wpid….

    Funny that….

    • smite says:

      Self righteousness and pretentiousness will ultimately lose against the vitality of blind hatred and aggression.

      All it takes is a few tough years of austerity and a few bitter drops of reality sprinkled over the, with fossil fuel, sugar coated dreams and illusions of a better tomorrow for most of the people in the western IC.

      Ah, the drama, it will be “interesting” to watch it unfold as the output from Ghawar spits, sputters and then squirts it’s final “gift” onto the body mankind, then nose dives into a thermodynamic dead state.

      Today ask yourself; are you useful or not? The beasts of capitalism can feel the whiff of complacency.

    • JMS says:

      For me there’s nothing more disconcerting (and embarrassing) than to realize how foolish and uninformed I was when I worshiped Chomsky and other idealist utopians, those days when I was able to think only in political terms, believing that the sole problem in the world was political corruption and the unequal distribution of wealth. How happy I was with my indignation and my certainties! And how the brilliance of my heroes of that time paled. All this still makes me shake my head with disbelief.

      • xabier says:


        At least you woke up. Or maybe it is better to retain belief in these phoneys – it feels better, as you say?

        I tried watching Chomsky, as my brother reveres him, but the condescending self-righteousness of the man was impossible to take for very long.

        And the gross misrepresentation of historical facts that even a student should be able to point out to him – but his audiences just lap it up.

  7. Fast Eddy says:

    Opiates and booze…

    Alcohol abuse has shot up since 2001, and the number of adults who binge weekly may top the population of Texas.

  8. grayfox says:

    Interesting article. What will Trump defend? Salmon fishery or big agriculture?

    • Not enough to go around, so there are more conflicts of this type.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Meanwhile nearly 100,000,000 new mouths arrived on the planet in the past 365 days…

        The fish are going to lose this battle.

        • grayfox says:

          The salmon fishery is a super-nutritious perennial food source that requires us to essentially do nothing but get out of the way and not upset things. We should sacrifice this for modern agriculture with its need for a range of inputs: fossil water, fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers and pesticides?

          • Fast Eddy says:

            And you should stop buying stuff in shops and living in a house and driving a car… and if you have children or grandchildren — you need to smother them…

            If you are serious about saving species.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              Right about now you are sitting there completely befuddled by my comments —- thinking Wot????

              This really is a simple concept to understand — but many are unable…

              I am serious – smother your grandchildren now if you want to remain consistent

            • grayfox says:

              Not sure if you are asking me or Marcus T. your question. As for me I have no children or grandchildren – which sometimes I am relieved about, I will admit.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              That is for anyone who is moaning about the salmon fishery….

              Don’t blame Trump or anyone else —- we are all responsible whenever a species gets wiped out…

            • grayfox says:

              We don’t want the salmon to be wiped out. They don’t have to be wiped out. If the salmon are valued highly enough they will not be wiped out.

            • Fast Eddy says:

              If you dont want them to be wiped out then you need to take an AK47 and started wiping out some humans…. because humans are the problem

    • Marcus T. Monihan says:

      I’m sure Trump based on his own ignorance, intentions to eliminate regulations, and this request will without another thought instantaneously toss out all protection for salmon. It will then become a free for all until they are near extinction. Then Trump will laugh and say, “Salmon are losers!” to which his base will become overjoyed, revel in excitement and heap praise upon Trump.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Marcus — do you have children?

        If you do then you should immediately take a pillow and smother them

        Then smother yourself — and do your part in saving the planet.

        How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction

        Scientists have been warning for decades that human actions are pushing life on our shared planet toward mass extinction. Such extinction events have occurred five times in the past, but a bold new paper finds that this time would be fundamentally different. Fortunately, there’s still time to stop it.

        • louiswu says:

          I am interested in the species that aren’t going extinct. There are species that are managing to thrive despite whatever humans are doing and not just whatever we have domesticated.

  9. Cliffhanger says:

    4 depressing charts show why many Americans are still haunted by the Great Recession

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