Alt Energy

I hope you all can join me on my journey to educate myself on the future of our world economy and Alternative Energy’s place in this new age. As I am new to this study, I welcome all contributors to not only share their knowledge, but for contributors to share their lack of knowledge. All of your opinions, based on facts or fiction, are important to know. Your questions, both technical and simplistic are welcome, as we all may share your curiosity and fear to ask those same questions. If what I say, has been said before, I apologize for my redundancy. If questions I pose, have answers that have been answered, please share those answers. (I truly am new to this) …and most important, if you feel I am wrong or not properly analyzing something, please speak up. That is the best way for me to learn.

As a beginner/amateur to this field of research, I hope I can provide the same forensic analysis that I have been able to apply to our financial markets by maintaining an impartial, unbiased view of this growing industry and its vast components that make it up. In addition, it will be important to understand the industries shortcomings and constraints due to the current crisis, as well as the existing cartels that have molded its growth.

As America ushers in new hope, through changes in leadership, I can only hope the same “timeless creed” can be applied to successfully employing change in the way we harness energy and treat our planet. The path to alternative energy will be a long road, and to its critics I say with a degree faith: Yes we can!

So without further ado I offer my first contribution:

Chapter 1

PAST: – Mission Impossible

In order to understand any part of alternative energy, I feel you have to first analyze the history of energy and what has brought us this far.

OIL:

Websites like the Oil Drum, and Peak Oil have discussed at much greater length, and in a much more educated way, oil’s place in our society. I hope to offer views that may or may not have been discussed. To start, I will not argue “peak” oil. Nor will I try to speculate on concepts of overall supply or eventual worldly demand. (at least not today) In my opinion, it is hard to argue for or against any theories within this spectrum as true or factual, as I am led to believe so much of what we read is nothing more then speculation.

Oil is a unique animal in the world of commodities. Too much or too little success will breed failure. They both offer equal risks. Oil Price increases, makes alternative sources more financially viable, as well as decreased price destroys their profits. Companies like Exxon have spit in the face of these risks with an attitude of: We are oil. This is what we do, you need it, we’re the best at providing it and all alternatives will not be financially viable. They are correct! So far. But, in my opinion, that same mindset is what worked for Wall St for so long and was its eventual fatal error.

Granted, Exxon does own many of the best alternative energy patents, and has the capitol to buy any upstart companies that could provide viable options that are cost effective, but this approach is susceptible to additional risks that Exxon may not be ready to face. Will oil cartels have access to capital if they don’t receive the same preferential treatments they have in the past? Can their stock piles of cash absorb higher taxation while at the same time pay the new obligations of more expensive and complicated extraction of the black gold? Will recent oil price increases and environmental responsibility force/scare the world into creating alternative energy sources regardless of cost? Will Alternative Energy growth outpace demand growth, and if so, would these renewable sources of energy create a death spiral of lessoning demand for oil? (Remember, less demand will force price decrease for an industry that is most susceptible to failure through price decrease.)

Now, not all oil companies are the same. Cheveron / BP / RoyDutchShell / C.P. / and the South Americans Companies, have shown a public willingness to start looking into these alternative sources. They’ve adopted green slogans, euphemized their names, and actually started spending some capital in this arena. (Exxon’s only real forays into this related “efficiency trend” have been bettering the use of oil through cleaner or more proficient burning.) The modern era of Research and Development for alternative energy will be very costly. With the current constraints on the worldwide economy, and the massive inflow of cash from the record high oil prices, the oil industry will be a key player in the advancements in this field. For those oil companies that spend that new found wealth early and often, this will be a marriage made in heaven based on current worldwide private credit supplies and demands of their interrelated products.

I have taken a statistical review of oil and shredded it in as many directions as I know how, to find a trend. I took real price history and compared it against inflation adjusted prices. Then tracked year or year trends based on % fluctuations. I did this with 5 & 10 year price averages. …and did their % fluctuations. Then I did the same with inflation adjusted pricing. Then I looked up world events based on timeline shifts… (I’m tired) …and I’m left with 1 word. WOW! Oil should be spelled W.O.W.!!! When you dip you hands and brain into this commodity you really can’t help but feel overwhelmed! (I’m stunned that I didn’t even realize oil was selling at $11 a barrel less then 10 years ago!!! I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know the size of the run up!) In addition, these charts I created look nearly identical to those of websites that I am now finding after the fact that I wasted so much time putting data together!!! (WTRG / InflationData were by my accounts, very accurate and I will consider using them for future information) …but creating my charts from scratch gives me perspective of oil’s actually size and history.

What I found was shocking to me! First, I am 100% changing my stance on $70 buying opportunities. Based on what I’ve put together, I created/calculated what I believe will be failure lines on both the high and low side of oil prices. …and 70 falls well into the failure range! In my opinion, if oil does not return to a $40-45 range within approximately 4 years, they run the MASSIVE RISK of operating in the “self destruct” range.

Below is a rudimentary model for trends and ranges. My actual version is much more complex, but this is just to get a point across…

(First $price$ is actual price average, second $price$ is inflation adjusted price)

From 1945-1972 = $3 x $20 built palaces in the deserts. It created Kings and Princes.

From 1973-1980 = $4-$37 x $22-$97 this was due to turbulence/wars

From 1980-1986 = $37-$14 x $97-$28 were a critical adjustment from self destruction

From 1987-2002 = $17-$22 x $28-$33 were proper growth which built cities in the desert

From 2002-2008 = $27-$97 x $32-$98 are once again due to turbulence/wars

From trend analysis, I say a critical adjustment down is necessary. In addition, to speed up that adjustment, we have seen a significant adjustment in the price of oil in comparison to the dollars strength vs inflation costs. The increase of oil price grew so disproportionate to dollar (due to its decreased value) that the spread of cost effectiveness of oil is way to tight. This is a double whammy on the risk side of self destructive prices. (Now let’s not forget… High prices are destructive, but not nearly as destructive as under pricing. …so oil must find that equilibrium soon, as every day it’s overpriced it will cause more reverse pressure on itself.)

***From a mathematical perspective, self destructive high oil prices can best be defined by this absurd scenario: It could potentially pay for the US government to eat the cost of putting electic cars in the hands of its citizens, just to avoid the negative impact of the cost of oil. It would be a roundabout way of ring fencing dollars, and increasing oil supply (which further reduces prices)

PRESENT: – A New Hope

Despite what oils grasp looks like on the US and the world of energy, there is proof of a change in tides. (though small… it’s a start)

Actual figures may vary, but the way I see it, approximately 75-80% of oil use is based on fueling transportation. (Raw material for chemicals/plastics (feedstock), Energy (heating homes/factories/refineries), Asphalt, lubricants, etc… make up the rest. Within the existing energy market, where alternative energy has found it’s niche, renewable energy makes up about 6-7%.

So to paint a mathematical picture lets look at 100 barrels of oil:

7 of those barrels are used for energy.

Those 7 barrels provide the US with 39% of its used energy. (coal 22%, natural gas 23%, nuclear 8%)

The renewable sources provide the rest 7% (Biomass 3.6%, Hydro 2.5%, Geothermal 0.35%, Wind 0.3%, Solar 0.08%)

Yes!!! That’s right! Alternative energy is currently a pimple on the ass of elephant that is OIL! ..but that’s gonna change!

What has to be looked at first are the other 93 barrels of oil.

I’ll break them into 3 categories:

Alt Energy Positive = [42]

Cars 41-barrels

Recreation 1-barrel

Alt Energy Neutral (alternatives may or may not exist?) = [10]

Factory heat 5-barrels

Energy for Refineries 3-barrels

Rail Freight 2-barrels (very grey area here)

Alt Energy Negative (efficiency possibilities exist but not elimination) = [41]

Trucks (freight) 13-barrels

Raw Material 10-barrels

Air Travel 7-barrels

Road pavement – 3-barrels

Water Freight – 2.5-barrels

Machinery – 2-barrels

Construction 2-barrels

Military 1.5-barrels

The Auto Industry:

In a perfect world, where we were able to maximize our alternative resources, we could reduce those 100-barrels down to 41, and potentially lower with breakthroughs within efficiency fields. No where is the commitment to ridding the world of its dependence for oil more obvious then the auto industry. This is fairly obvious, but sometimes lost in the hoopla of solar/wind/hydro is the fact that the auto industry uses 7x more oil the entire energy market does in the US. (so if every ounce of energy, electric, etc was being produced via alt en sources, it would still be 14% by comparison to automobiles) Alt Energy’s current impact is 45x less then the current auto use alone.

This leads me to believe (as I’ve stated in the past) the US auto industry will be recreated/saved/overhauled. Depending on which happens, and their current status, I see a an upside investment opportunity that could outweigh the risks of failure. In the event of Chapter 11, (which they likely need) I would be bullish on the restructure. In the event of Chapter 7, I would become bullish on the competitors.

***completely off topic, I’d just like to say that Diet Mug Root Beer is far and away the best tasting diet soda I have ever drank!!! I just finished 2 liters while typing. For those who hate that “diet taste” I say give this drink a chance.***

OK, Where was I…

Another sector I haven’t had enough time to research and would greatly appreciate input is within the battery companies that supply the auto industry. I know JCI (Johnson Controls) is in the electric car field and may be well positioned for a boom… but I don’t know who supplies them and their like companies? Ener1 (HEV) also comes to mind as a battery cell provider… but I have not looked at their books.

FUTURE: – Genergy X

So where are we tomorrow in alternative energy if oil is just too big to stop???

That is the million dollar question that shortsighted people just can’t see beyond when thinking “long term investments”. The concept of “renewable source” of energy means that it’s INFINITE. Small increases in infinite sources create perpetual growth. This will consistently cut into the demand side of finite/dependent resources like oil.

For example, in the new technology age, with big screen HDTVs, central air units, whirlpool tubs, computer systems, etc… we generally see 1.1% year over year demand increases in energy consumption. Our fossil Fuels have not kept that pace within this arena. Instead, these alternative energy sources have picked up the slack and then some:

(Granted, they are small in size, but their YoY growth is impressive considering their infinite potential)

Wind 17% 1 year increase, with a 4 year increase of 64%.

Biomass 6% 1 year increase, with a 4 year increase of 22%.

Solar 10% 1 year increase, with a 4 year increase of 20%.

Geothermal 3% 1 year increase, with a 4 year increase of 7%

***What I can’t seem to figure out is Hydro? Something smells rotten! For quite some time, oil companies have acknowledge Hydro as one of the only energy sources that could potentially compete based on production and cost effectiveness. Why have there been decreases in production? -16%!!! Like I said above, something smells very rotten here? Have some damns collapsed that I did not hear about? I am reminded of Enron’s taking California power companies “offline” to manipulate the cost of KW by decreasing supply. …so why would the “efficient” supplier be producing less. (and it’s SIGNIFICANTLY LESS!) I hope there is a justifiable reason for this.***

From an investment standpoint, I am not comfortable advising on any specific alt energy providers yet. (Especially since credit/capital is sooooo short right now, and these companies have large upfront overhead for R&D. Many of these companies will be forced to raise capital in the near future, and will likely come up empty.) …but what I do see is the daisy chain of alternative energy. On the infrastructure and suppliers side, there are decent opportunities. These players will likely be the first beneficiaries of paying contracts that the Government will likely fund.

If the auto industry increases its supply of electric cars or hybrids, then there will be an increased demand for electricity. Koppers and Stella Jones (KOP & STLJF) both supply the majority of the US utility poles (and railroad ties), which will both likely see contracts and payments made (while the rest of the country is reeling)

…as for the biofuel crowd. I don’t know why something isn’t sitting right with me here??? I understand the awesome benefits to being carbon neutral (for those who don’t know carbon neutral, it means there 0 negative environmental effects from using this. Oil was a biofuel billions of years ago before being locked underground. Anyway, by burning these fuels, they release carbon, rather then methane (which they release through rotting) Methane eventually turns to carbon (but I think at something like a 4:1 ratio???) Anyway it actually pays to burn it. On top of that, by using xxx biofuels it means you’re using xxx less oil, which when burned will release its trapped carbons into the atmosphere.)

…but aside from just the bad gut feeling about there being some overlooked factor (a doomsday unforeseen variable), I only see biofuels as regionally efficient. If they have to be shipped, then they have defeated their purpose as the cost overcomes its actual value. Based on that alone, there are only a few Midwest states that I see, that really stand to benefit from this.

I hope this was useful. Like I said, this is a new field of study for me, but I soon hope to be a trustworthy source of information, advice and insight.

Now it’s your turn to write!

Miss America – Rich Hartmann

p.s. I’m looking for a catchy title to my reoccurring Alternative Energy posts. For now it’s: Alt-enRGE playing off the RGE blog, but I’m open to new suggestions.

p.p.s. Thank you all for your replies last week. I apologize if I can’t always reply. I don’t have enough free time sometimes. Outerbeltway, medic, hazel, bcdogs, AfA, FreeT, great G, Lord, USSR, p1aql, lance, and even Mark (who really cut me down the prior week), miss I, and DetGen (whom should not have tae my rants personal. They are really directed at our shock highlight driven media in the US. I applaud him for being here and trying to spread the word)… KEEP the comments coming. And feel free to spread the word if you visit other sites. Cut and paste away. I’d appreciate it.

…and of course LB… Thanks as always.

p.p.p.s. Lets keep this area Ryscamp free!!! (Feel frre to like the guy if you do, but I’ve got issues. A year and a half ago, he forced me to shred his agenda and theories. If he disagrees, or you prove him wrong he ignores you. My advice is to just disregard his self promoting rhetoric, rather then waste time exposing then fraud that he is.

77 Responses to "Alt Energy"

  1. London Banker   November 6, 2008 at 9:06 am

    First

    • Dan   November 6, 2008 at 10:30 am

      LBDid you have an advance notice of the MA pablication, so you can be the first? You have connections…

      • London Banker   November 6, 2008 at 11:55 am

        Just lucky. I was hanging out at RGE because of the rate cuts.

  2. Detlef Guertler   November 6, 2008 at 9:09 am

    It`s okay to be second to LB

  3. London Banker   November 6, 2008 at 9:10 am

    You’ve been at it four weeks. I’ve been at it six months. We’re exhausted keeping up with the paltry comments we attract on our blog posts.Imagine how it is for the Professor who posts several times a week and attracts hundreds of comments. I can see why he adopted the “no reply” policy because otherwise he’d have no time for his real work saving the global economy from becoming an economic black hole.

  4. oller   November 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Dear Rich:The greatest casualty of the credit deleveragingis our energy policy, water conservation and food production efficiencies. These are all long term survival problems that are being neglected. I recently read in the Economist that hunger in the Horn of Africa is very high.We need to work on Alternative Sources of Energy for efficiency in all 3 of these areas. Water conservationand food sufficiency are part of the Energy puzzle. Thesubject you are tackling is of upmost importance, but it is being overshadowed by the Credit Deleveraging. Weare going to wake up one day to see that the combination of innefficient energy usage that wasteswater and consumes food(corn ethanol) will be an emergency. The perception of emergency has been lost,and this may be a disaster. I hope that this new administration will give Alternative Energy its deserved attention. Good luck in your endeavor.We have always admired your prescient posting.

    • MA   November 6, 2008 at 3:51 pm

      I’m with you on both.2 future chapters will be Conservation & RisksI plan to postulate climate change scenarios, to address draught, floods, etc in relation to our food supplies. (to show possible doomsday scenarios in mixing energy dependence and food supply)…remember this old line: “houses never lose value”MA/RH

  5. Guest from Canada   November 6, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Alt-enRGE- A ranking of its drivers.MA (and others) how would you rank the following categories as drivers of the change to Alt-E from Traditional-E on a scale of 1-10 with a rank of 10 indicating enough to drive the change on its own: (note I may have missed* a category please feel free to add)Environmental concerns (1-10)Climate Change (1-10)Supply issues – physical (1-10)Supply issues – political (1-10)Economics (Alt E$ =< Traditional E$)(1-10)I left out “political will” as I think that notwithstanding campaign promises and even the need for economic stimulus, the politics will need to be based on one or a combination of the above.The thinking behind my request may be obvious, which I will share later.Thanks

    • AfA   November 6, 2008 at 11:42 am

      Environmental concerns 5Climate Change 4Supply issues – physical 9Supply issues – political 7Economics (Alt E$ =< Traditional E$) 7

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

      GfCI’ll have to give this some thought. Hopefully I’ll have the time to put rankings together.MA/RH

  6. JimmyTheBanker   November 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

    11:33 a.m.IMF warns of global recession in 2009

  7. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

    11:46 a.m.Czech central bank cuts rates by 75 bp to 2.75%

  8. Cliffrod J. Wirth, Ph.D.   November 6, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Here is a good explanation of Peak Oil.According to most independent scientific studies, global oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 9%.No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always exceed production levels; thus oil depletion will continue steadily until all recoverable oil is extracted.Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from “outside,” and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.htmlI used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207. http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 12:04 pm

      Cliff, thank you for your post.I am a “peak” skeptic. (my brain knows it’s finite) yet, I don’t trust any (ANY!!!) publications that speak about something they have no proof of.Unless they can stick there head in the well, THEY HAVE NO PROOF. (which is why I’m avoiding “peak oil” as part of my postings on the alt-en arena.I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine from the departed comic genius Chris Farley (whom I met a couple of times) from the movie Tommy Boy:”you can take a good look at a piece of steak by sticking your head up a bulls ass… but I’d just as soon take the butchers word for it.”In this case, the “butchers” tend to have agenda and ulterior motives. …so I’m not taking there word for it.Just my opinion,MA/RH

  9. The Russian   November 6, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Alt E is not exactly my field of expertise, but very interesting. Maybe those links are helpful for discussion. First link is from oildrum, IMO good presentation on energy crisis and global econ:http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/4712http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/005686.htmlhttp://www.energybulletin.net/

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 3:52 pm

      thxMA

  10. tonyw   November 6, 2008 at 10:59 am

    You have some way to go.Ethanol is most certainly NOT carbon neutral, it may be true to say that the carbon released has been captured by the plant’s growth. However, it requires much CO2 to grow the crop using fossil fertilisers, fuel for tractors to plant and harvest the crop, then significant amounts of energy to turn the crop into ethanol.You say that “…it is hard to argue for or against any theories within this spectrum as true or factual…” when talking about peak oil. It is a very simple fact that the amount of oil is finite, we have to discover it before we can extract it and discoveries have been falling since the mid 60s.IMHO it is obvious that we have discovered and used the largest and most easily extracted oil fields first. The amount of oil being discovered today is less than we are using. The thing that matters is the amount or flow of oil we can extract. All oil fields reach a peak of flow then decline. When it takes more energy to extract the oil than is gained oil extraction will stop.In the same manner as an individual oil field peaking so a collection of oil fields will peak. Some think that world peak production has already occurred and many that it will occur within 5 years at maximum. The actual date is not important, what is important is that we take action to mitigate this NOW rather than continue our mistakes.

  11. MA   November 6, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for stopping in Tony.I’m a little confused? I did not breakdown the entire BioFuel group and single out any bioAlcohols like ethanol. (thus, I did not call ethanol carbon neutral.)I am pointing to BioFuels as a whole being carbon neutral. Am I wrong???Either way, I stated that BioFuels don’t sit right with me. I can’t put my finger on it.Miss America

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

      MA,I would not characterize you position as wrong, but want to point out that there is strong potential for more advanced Biofuels. We can’t get to where we need to be in one giant leap. I agree that there is a lot not to like about ethanol, especially corn ethanol. But, cellulosic ethanol (made from nonfood feedstocks such as switchgrass…or prarie grass, wood chips, etc.) is on the verge of becoming viable on a large scale. As you mention, it makes sense locally but the need to transport by truck is a huge shortcoming.The next generation Biofuel will likely be Butanol, which is made of the same feedstock (corn or cellulosic) but has a higher energy density and is fully compatible with existing infrastructure (pipelines, automobiles, etc) and is moisture resistant. It has production shortcomings right now and will likely not be available commercially for at least 5 years. However, there is a lot to like about it.

      • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:46 am

        p.s. PKB

        • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:48 am

          Nice. I’ll add it to my reading/research list.Thanks, MA

    • DocBerg   November 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

      In my past life, I helped get two ethanol plants started in western Illinois. I was initially against them, but eventually came around a bit. From talking with some of the earliest players in that field, I was told that the initial idea was to capture more of the corn value locally to help keep the small rural towns viable. They wanted to use corn derived ethanol as a replacement for MTBE, which is an additive to promote better combustion of the fuel. MTBE is a carcinogen and tends to leach into the water table out of storage tanks. Farmers sell a largely undifferentiated product in the corn kernel. They were faced with a very powerful cartel that was able to keep the price of corn relatively low. Hence, the effort to process it it locally, provide some decent construction and operational jobs, and raise the price of corn. The idea of energy independence via corn based ethanol is a farce, and seemingly came about once the ethanol industry became yet another bubble. If you have an ethanol plant set up properly, virtually all of the corn is used either for ethanol or for cattle/poultry feed. If you co-locate a feed lot by the plant, you can use much less natural gas for drying the co-product as it can go right to the cows, chickens, or turkeys. I know of some plants that are even providing most of their own energy to run themselves and then sell the excess gas and electricity to utilities. Ethanol is useful for this limited use. But, I agree with Kunstler that the era of happy motoring is over. Batteries are environmentally inefficient and rather nasty, as are most semiconductor fabrication techniques, so a lot of green alternatives are not so attractive when examined closely.

  12. PKB   November 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

    MA,With regard to investment potential, I just wanted to mention the fledgling industry of Carbon Sequestration (capture and disposal). In the event of a carbon tax or cap & trade system, which is becoming more likely with the insurgent Obama regime, this industry could be poised to move to the upside. In short, the price of carbon emission (per unit) should converge to the marginal cost of disposal/sequestration.PKB

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:51 am

      any place I can get base data on this to run my own math? Weblinks, etc…Thanks again, MA/RH

  13. AfA   November 6, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Thank you MA for that great breakdown analysis. Much of information to digest and then some more. You are giving me the opportunity, reason and push I need to start exploring this field that I’ve been pushing off for some time now.Alt’n’RGE

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 11:52 am

      AfA, I’m with ya. It’s get off my ass time. I guess that’s the hard part Obama’s talking about?!?!?!MA

  14. PKB   November 6, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Just in case anyone is looking for credible data on energy, the following like is mostly where I get my research data:http://cta.ornl.gov/data/index.shtmlPKB

  15. PKB   November 6, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    MA,Not to detract from the topic of the day, but, did you also revise down your buy limit on gold? It seems that with the major rate cuts today by UK and EU, Swiss we would see a move up, but that is obviously not the case. That seems like a bad/downward omen??? Am I wrong…I’m an energy bug not a gold bug (that is looking to build a position)…;^)PKB

  16. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    I would look at gold for wealth retention at 700-750 prices. Not for Profit. If you can sell north of 750, while the equity market is simultaniously on the 8,000 side, I would ride those highs, and buy the dips more aggressively on the 700 side especially when the DOW is on the 9,000 side. This is strictly for the volitile times. It takes coordination of opposites to maximize here.MA/RH

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

      Super! ThanX.PKB

    • hazleton   November 6, 2008 at 8:01 pm

      @Miss AmericaWhat do you think of Marc Faber’s idea of buying gold coins and storing them in safe deposit boxes outside of the U.S.

  17. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    1:21 p.m.Democrats still have shot at filibuster-proof Senate

    • bcdogs   November 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm

      Not so sure about that. I don’t think they are going to get the turnout they need for Martin in Georgia to beat SC.Franken may not win the recount…

  18. JimmyTheBanker   November 6, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    We just tested the breakout of two weeks ago. Huge buying at that level!!! That is our battle ground for today. If we take out 27.78 on the SSO, WOW it is gonna be an ugly close.

    • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 1:07 pm

      WOW! Dow has just rallied back over 130 points in lie, 8 minutes!

  19. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    you need partnerships/education/gov. local solutions lots of interest in my communityStormFisher has three industrial-scale plants in Ontario that each generate 2.4 megawatts of energy. The company’s first three projects based in Guelph, Port Colborne and London, Ontario, are expected to break ground this year and are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2009. The company sees many more opportunities for development on the horizon including business in the U.S., due to the sheer number of facilities located there. StormFisher focuses on clean organic streams that pose a disposal problem.According to Little, most of the material the company deals with is already destined for landfill or compost.StormFisher Biogas has been involved in the production of biogas for a variety of uses. Last year, the company teamed up with Inniskillin Wines to produce biogas from grape pomace, a grape residue comprised of skin and seeds. The methane gas produced from the composition of the grape pomace is captured and used to generate power for homes in the Niagara, Ontario, region.More recently, StormFisher proposed a site for a $10 million waste-to-energy facility where manure and mixed organic materials from commercial food processors in the Drayton, Ontario, area will be converted into pipeline-grade natural gas. The company will use approximately 100,000 tonnes of manure a year to generate methane gas which would then be converted on-site into natural gas, then connected into a Union Gas pipeline.http://www.biofuelsmagazine.ca/article.jsp?article_id=109&article_title=From+Biomass+to+Biogas&q=&page=all—————————————-Government of Canada Invests in Development of On-Farm Biodiesel PlantRIDGETOWN, Ontario, June 20, 2008 – The Government of Canada is bringing biofuel technologies to Canadian farms. Federal funding of $938,260 is being provided to develop a functional, farm-scale oilseed processing and biodiesel plant at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus that will be used for technology demonstrations, education, and applied research.——————————————Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation (OTCBB: DYMTF), a leader in biomass-to-biofuel technology, today announced it hosted a tour of its Guelph, Ontario BioOil® plant — the first facility of its kind — on Friday, September 14 with over seventy-five global biofuel experts attending. ..The Guelph plant, with a capacity to convert 200 tonnes of biomass into BioOil per day, was developed in partnership with MegaCity Recycling Inc. and operates under the name Evolution Biofuels Inc. This Dynamotive flagship pyrolysis plant was constructed using modules that minimize on-site activities and allow for rapid deployment. It comprises eight fully assembled modules and when fully operational will process 66,000 dry tons of biomass per year with an energy output equivalent to 130,000 barrels of oil.http://www.biodieselnow.com/forums/t/18344.aspx

    • Guest   November 7, 2008 at 3:00 pm

      Dr. Scheer, who has a doctorate in economics, realized that energy was a major weakness in Germany’s industrial future. The country didn’t have oil reserves or large rivers for hydroelectric projects and so was generating electricity with nuclear and coal plants. He realized that this made Germany vulnerable to the vagaries of geopolitics and that these were not sustainable forms of energy.He recognized that the sun radiates more than enough energy and that this energy from the sun or secondary sources like wind, wave, and biomass are sustainable. Even though he was a politician, Dr. Scheer founded the nonprofit Eurosolar to encourage renewable-energy initiatives in all sectors of society. His efforts, which coincided with the rise of the anti-nuclear Green party in Germany, struck a chord. Could renewable energy provide enough energy to shut down all nuclear plants? Dr. Scheer knew it could, even though scientists and other “experts” declared it was impossible for renewables to account for more than a small percentage of the nation’s electricity.With the Green party holding the balance of power in a left-wing coalition government, Dr. Scheer was able to introduce an innovative plan, a feed-in tariff, which commits the country to accept all renewable energy (primarily wind and solar) onto the grid and to guarantee a premium price for that energy for 20 years. That provided a huge incentive for individuals or co-ops to build turbines and install solar panels because banks would not hesitate to provide loans given those conditions.As a recent article in the Globe and Mail noted, the feed-in tariff, beyond giving Germany more than 20,000 megawatts of clean energy, has also created new economic opportunities. The renewable-energy sector now “generates about $24-billion in annual revenues and employs a quarter-million Germans. Germany’s wind industry created 8,000 jobs in 2007 alone, and one recent study suggested that the renewable sector could provide more work than the auto industry (currently the nation’s biggest employer) by 2020.”http://www.davidsuzuki.org/about_us/Dr_David_Suzuki/Article_Archives/weekly08150801.asp

      • Detlef Guertler   November 8, 2008 at 12:32 am

        It’s utter nonsense to promote solar power in Germany: Not enough sun, even in summer (Germany is a country with nine months of winter and three months of non-summer, Napoleon said), and the peak demand for energy and electricity is in winter, when sun is even scarcer. So it’s one of the most expensive ways for a government to demonstrate an environmentalist attitude.Expensive ways are no ways, now less than ever: Even the most efficient global way to sustainable energy will cost the world some dozen trillions, so we can’t afford to invest in such hugely inefficient programms. Build solar power plants where the sun shines – not in Germany.

        • Guest   November 8, 2008 at 6:08 pm

          no but isn’t the german engineer exporting the knowledge to the sunnier sides of the planet…

  20. Detlef Guertler   November 6, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    spot on, MA,what you said about the dangers of too high and too low oil prices for the whole oil industry. It was way too low 10 years ago and way too high that summer, and as the oil price is the most influential price in the world, it`s made by the most influential people in the world.I remember the summer of 2002, oil less than 20$, when absolutely out of the blue a study of Goldman Sachs found out, that with one of the four scenarios they made for the energy markets, there would exist a tiny, really tiny, almost invisible possibility that oil could climb to 50$ within some years. Please, don`t panic, folks, of course that`s far from reality, we just wanted to print a funny number. In September 2002 the German magazine I worked for at that time had an interview with Sheikh Jamani, former Saudi oil minister and still influential “consultant”. We asked what he thought about that funny number, 50, and he answered: “50? Why not 100?” Just a way to prepare the markets to where to go to.By the way: Whenever there is something in the world with fast and steady growing price you can bet that dozens of hedge funds sell it short. Has anyone ever heard that between 2002 and 2007 any hedge fund was shorting oil?For me the signal was clear: TPTB decided shortly after (or before) 9-11, that the world should learn that oil would NEVER be cheap again. That the world should kick-start alternative energies NOW to have them in charge when peak oil comes (or Saudi Arabia falls). That people like MA should find out that Alt nRGE is the best way to make money in the future.TPTB tried to define the ceiling for oil prices, but didn`t get it exactly: I`d say it should have been at a bit more than 100, the rest was irrational exuberance, and I`m sure the exuberants were made to pay for it. So maybe when they try to define the floor there`ll be overshooting as well, but somewhere around Goldman`s 50 the floor should be solid for a while. Remember: Oil will NEVER become cheap again.

  21. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    You may want to occasionally glance at this site for other writings and links. See “Clean Tech” at bottom of the page.http://www.dollarcollapse.com/My paltry comment.hlowe

    • MA   November 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm

      Hey there… LB and I talked offline. I spoke about how I’m find it tough to make time to reply to everyone. I want to. So does LB. …but it really eats into what little free time I have.For example, I was up Tuesday until 2:30am and Wed 3:30am putting this togtether with scattered reading and note takeing throught the weeks. (usually late nights)Since I get up at 6:30, I’m not getting much sleep. (thus I’m not editing my work and kinda rushing it out (they’re all 1st drafts) That lack of sleep is leading to sloppy work.) I need to come up with a better system. I’m working on it.Respectfully, MA/RH (and I’m sure LB too)

      • Guest   November 6, 2008 at 4:54 pm

        No Worries! Unfortunately my sarcasm is difficult to detect, but is playful.Usually my post do not fully convey my opinions of the material I link to, thus one can easily assume incorrectly my take away or reason for providing links. For example, last week when I posted that Peter Schiff is going to talk with the King Of SA about the dollar, it was likely interpreted not as I intended. The truth of the matter is I think he does not have the best interest of the USA at heart.Btw, in comparison with most of the post here at RGE, I recognize mine are sometimes paltry.hlowe

  22. Guest   November 6, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Duh… thanks for the link. (I forget) I’ll check it out.MA

  23. Anonymous   November 6, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Yes, hope is our reward for each leadership change we bring about. Maybe someday we find a way to move beyond hope and find a way to govern ourselves where hope will no longer be the main dish of change.You might want to spend some time thinking about what kind of negative effects would have come from moving jobs to China, where labor prices are cheap, if at the same time we allowed oil prices to stay at $9 a barrel — massive price deflation in finished goods. Remember back then, that big oil held Congressional meetings to try and get prices up and it was not without reason.

  24. OuterBeltway   November 6, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    MA:Great work. May I offer up a few concepts:Resource depletion .vs. velocity of technological changeDesire to adopt alt-E .vs. awareness of means of implementation, or consensus on implementation typeAwareness of means of implementation .vs. economic ability (access to resources, including knowledge and capital)Social forces (herd behavior and emotional conservatism) are major factors in the adoption of any new product or idea.Like most markets, the energy market is muddled by conflicting information. No clear action path is being consistently projected toward the majority of people.And like most markets, this one is controlled by a few players whose interests don’t parallel the interests of the many. That’s another reason why consumption patterns aren’t as mobile as the technology suggests they could be.One thing you’ll find once you digest the technical details is that the equation is more political and educational than it is technical.First things first. Name the sources and uses of energy. Figure out what the current location and technological trajectory and velocity is of each of the main sources. ID the break-out innovation that’s required for the technology to hit the streets. That’ll give you an idea of where we are on the supply side.——- Now, let’s look at the demand side –Do a sociological experiment on yourself.Do a top-down, bird’s-eye view of the travel pattern of the average home-owner/worker (you and I, for example). Map time-spent-out-of-the-day on top of it (how much time you spend where, including in-transit time). Ask “is this activity adding value”. More importantly, ask “is there an alternative that would create more value to the individual”?Activity costs energy and time. To the average Westerner, time is what we have the least of.——– let’s talk perception —–“conservation” means “doing without what I want” to most people. Bad marketing strategy.What’s needed is to re-position the issue (marketing-speak) in people’s minds.No one wants to live CroMagnon man’s lifestyle anymore. We understand that chasing animals with a club is dumb.The key is to show people how to “hunt” in a manner that doesn’t waste time. Then you get more time to “live”. That’s why we all dream of winning the lottery. Then we’d have “time”.Today, activity = energy consumption. What if activity’s ambit was narrower, and didn’t use much energy? What would things be like then? Would climate change and resource depletion be relevant?This isn’t an energy issue so much as it’s a lifestyle issue. Where do you want to spend your time? Take another look at that top-down daily-time-spent-where picture you drew. Where’s the place you have the most fun, and create the most value? Shouldn’t it be easy/cheap/fast for you to get there?In the end, energy use is a social phenomenon as much as it’s a technical one. Economics is the social needs projected upon the current technical toolset. Social needs (see Maslow) are peculiar things – is it necessary to use a lot of energy to meet those needs? Do the needs dictate the means, or can different means be successfully substituted .. ones that don’t use so much energy?This is the message that Mark, who’s unfortunately not here to defend himself, often lambasts me for. However, I have become the Borg, and I’m adopting the tactics of my interlocutors.Beware, Mark, for I have morphed ;)— a bit later on, we’ll hit the issue of logistics and design-for-reuse. These are major way-stations on the way to a sustainable, enjoyable future.

    • Guest   November 7, 2008 at 3:45 pm

      yes towns can~The Town of Okotoks became one of the first municipalities in the world to establish growth targets linked to infrastructure development and environmental carrying capacity (Sheep River) when it adopted a Municipal Development Plan (MDP) in September 1998. The Town, dependent on the Sheep River for its water and its ability to treat and dispose effluent, faced an intersection in its evolution in 1998 – it could continue to “grow without limits” and plan accordingly with access to regional infrastructure, or it could take a “road less traveled” and intentionally choose to live within the carrying capacity of the Sheep River watershed. A community-driven vision – to respond to rather than manipulate the environment that sustains us, chose the latter.Carrying capacity (ability to draw water, infuse treated effluent based on provincial regulations) was identified as approximately 30,000 people. A build-out municipal boundary was established, with a comprehensive set of targets and initiatives identified to ensure build-out population could be reached in an environmentally, economically, socially, and fiscally healthy way. Hence the articulation of four pillars of Sustainable Okotoks that continue to motivate and drive action: 1) Environmental stewardship; 2) Economic Opportunity; 3) Social Conscience; and 4) Fiscal Responsibility. The pillars work together to mould the community Okotokians have expressed as a desire in three Community Surveys conducted in the past 8 years – a place that is safe and secure, maintains small town atmosphere, has a pristine river valley, has quality schooling, provides housing choice and employment options for young and old alike – a place of modest size and the sense of connectivity to people and place that maintains. It does not wax nostalgic…rather it represents a desire for a ‘better’ community in the form of a practical working guide to follow on a community development path that epitomizes Robert Frost’s “road less traveled”.http://www.okotoks.ca/sustainable/overview.aspIn June, a dozen central energy planners from China toured Okotoks looking for sustainable solutions they could use to remedy their country’s growing pains

  25. OuterBeltway   November 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Oh, yeah, MA: one more thing. When you do your daily activity diagram, color the times/places red that use the most energy. Environmental conditioning, machines, mass * velocity, you get the idea. Where’s the red?

  26. PolymerMom   November 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Rich,You left out several issues in your excellent analysis.The big one is there has to be a net energy gain from whatever source one uses. Solar and wind have no problem. Biomass, especially if corn-based does. Ethanol from corn uses massive amounts of fertilizer, which is hydrocarbon-derived (usually Natural gas). It also has huge water requirements. It lacks a distrubtion network, so add in transportation. Ethanol from cellulose has a different problem. Cellulose developed to hold water in and it’s really hard to break down. Enzymes may facilitate this, but a lot of development work needs to be done.Solar and wind are not constant, so one constantly hears it’s not viable. T Boone Pickens is investing heavily and expecting the public to build a new power grid to distribute it. Another possibility is fuel cells – use solar to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen. If enough plug-in cars use fuel cells, the local utility can draw on their batteries to even the load. (This was proposed in this month’s MIT Technology Review.)There is always methane from organic waste. Some folks have proposed tapping the methane from town dumps. Given today’s methods for sanitary landfills, I’m not sure how much one can expect. (Producing methane usually produces nasty odors in uncontrolled reactions.) One needs to be careful in pushing methane production. If there is shortage of fertilizer from hydrocarbons, manure makes a pretty good fertilizer.It may just turn out that the use of a personal car for short trips becomes a thing of the past. Therefore mass transit in densely populated areas will become de riguer. See European countries for examples.Again, thanks for opening the topic. I started buying an alternative energy mutual fund (NALFX) last year.

  27. hazleton   November 6, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    @MAThanks for acknowledging that Ryscamp is a waste of time.

  28. Citizen Sane   November 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    As an analyst with about twenty years’ experience in the field, here is my shortest take:1. We will burn all the oil. It’s just too powerful to leave it underground.1A. Ethanol and most transportation policy is a waste of time and money.2. If we burn all the oil AND all the coal, the world will heat up to effectively uninhabitable levels.2A. The real battleground is large baseload electric power technology; i.e. coal replacement. Nuclear or..what?3. Nuclear has never solved the waste and proliferation problems. No the French and Japanese haven’t either.3A. I assure you it’s worse than you think. Much worse. That fuel cycle needs to be retired.4. Intermittant renewables are currently expensive and unreliable–that’s wind and solar.4A. Reliability problems are already being seriously encountered in the US Great Plains.5. Hydro and geothermal are great if you can get them.5A. Very few undeveloped sites are left–a fundamental limit on ability to fill our needs.6. Only two really big areas to explore: BIOMASS ELECTRICITY and ENERGY STORAGE.6A. Wild card: Catalytic methane formation may be a real ‘zinger’Biomass can offer reliable dispatchable carbon-free energy at surprisingly economic prices. The problems are several, but all appear surmountable.Problem 1: Supply adequacy. People who raise this usually know nothing about it. If we leave the transportaion sector out of it, there is plenty of supply for electric power. Mind you, it is a huge new industry, but acre for acre it’s just that: a large new agro-forestry effort. Many paper and lumber operations today use over a million tons of wood each year. Wood rather than row crops is the key for the next decade or more.Problem 2: Capital intensity. Wind and solar can be researched for a few million bucks per innovative windmill or solar panel, but a scaled up biomass unit costs hundreds of millions. We need serious risk protection and shared ownership.Problem 3: Thermal efficiency. Direct combustion is only about 35% efficient. But with gasification, we can use the combined cycle process which is the most efficient electric power technology ever devised, at better than 50% efficiency (even with the gasification energy loss). In other words, IGCC or Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. Look it up. Biomass IGCC has been identified at the highest levels of energy analysis (UN, IEA, etc) as the breakthrough technology for decades. We just haven’t had the focus or the cash. Boo hoo, eh?Storage could make wind and solar effectively reliable. We do have pumped hydro available already, sometimes at huge (1000 MW+) scale. See hydro site availability above. Other technologies have unresolved efficiency and cost issues….so far.OK, that’s it: please tell the Obama folks and the surviving capitalists to press on the biomass IGCC button and keep pressing it. Wind solar and efficiency have kept the green lobby fat and happy for 20 years now…but there’s no way to solve our problems with that stuff. Too much denial and it’s Nuclear City. Trust me, you really don’t want that.Coal, nuclear or biomass……sigh…..I just bet no one is listening.

    • Detlef Guertler   November 7, 2008 at 12:50 am

      Sorry, Citizen Sane: If you want that no-one listens to you – you’ve chosen the wrong site for your posting.BIGCC sounds very interesting, thx for pushing that button, (I wonder why I never heard about it) but there’s still one problem with biomass you didn’t mention: Every acre of land that produces energy plants can’t be used to produce food plants. And we have still growing population and limited fertile land. Oil kills by war, biomass by famine.And I doubt your grim perspective for solar power. Where’s the problem(except money) if you use all the deserts of Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona for production of solar electricity? What could be more reliable than sun in the desert?

      • Citizen Sane   November 13, 2008 at 10:03 pm

        Detlef,Biomass for electric power need not compete with food crops. This is a serious issue facing biomass for transportation fuels today. The difference is that plants ‘spend’ energy making complex oils and sugars. Liquid fuels need that energy but electric fuels do not. It is a waste of energy to convert simple hydrocarbon chains (fiber, cellulose) into oils and sugars when biomass gasification just converts them back again. In fact all we want is the simplest hydrocarbon of all: methane, CH4. This is why ‘pipeline quality biogas’ from farms or landfills is an economic reality even today.So corn and soybeans are not what we want for electricity. Poplar, willow, switchgrass, eucalyptus: Just the plant fiber please. These crops can grow in marginal land areas.I don’t think that my perspective on solar is grim. Solar might capture 10% of a future energy market. But on the power grid, the intermittant renewables tend to fight a ‘zero sum game’ at the margin with energy efficiency and natural gas. We need a baseload 24-7 large scale solution for the 30+% of the market that cannot be serviced by solar, partly because much of it it happens at night.Solar will grow by many multiples. My point is that we are missing important parts of a portfolio that will be filled by coal and nuclear unless a focused and successful effort in made in energy storage (for solar!) and biomass gasification (which cuts fuel and land demand in half).

    • OuterBeltway   November 7, 2008 at 8:31 am

      CS:Nice work. Biomass has supply problems, but it’s a good addition to the arsenal. Pyrolysis in a setting that captures the thermal by-products is a great design. Why do you claim it has to be huge to be practical? Can you supply a link?I do agree that storage, or better yet, conversion to a high-density, transportable fuel would make any solar-derived generation more viable (solar, wind, hydro).But the most striking thing about your analysis, to me, is your assertion that humans will take the “easy way out” – (burn all the oil), and then they’ll do the second most dumb thing, and that’s use nuclear power in lieu of developing sustainable alts for electrical power.This is the only thing about our energy challenges that worries me.We need some social psychologists to weigh in on this. The tech stuff is easy by comparison.I’ll note that in northern Europe, there are many communities that elected higher short-term costs in order to avoid the outcomes you posit above (warming, nuke risk).This is one of the main reasons I advocate closer review of the mentality, values and the general social contract terms in these countries (Germany, Denmark, Norway for example).They are doing something we are not even considering. Why?

    • OuterBeltway   November 7, 2008 at 8:32 am

      CS:Nice work. Biomass has supply problems, but it’s a good addition to the arsenal. Pyrolysis in a setting that captures the thermal by-products is a great design. Why do you claim it has to be huge to be practical? Can you supply a link?I do agree that storage, or better yet, conversion to a high-density, transportable fuel would make any solar-derived generation more viable (solar, wind, hydro).But the most striking thing about your analysis, to me, is your assertion that humans will take the “easy way out” – (burn all the oil), and then they’ll do the second most dumb thing, and that’s use nuclear power in lieu of developing sustainable alts for electrical power.This is the only thing about our energy challenges that worries me.We need some social psychologists to weigh in on this. The tech stuff is easy by comparison.I’ll note that in northern Europe, there are many communities that elected higher short-term costs in order to avoid the outcomes you posit above (warming, nuke risk).This is one of the main reasons I advocate closer review of the mentality, values and the general social contract terms in these countries (Germany, Denmark, Norway for example).They are doing something we are not even considering. Why?

      • OuterBeltway   November 7, 2008 at 8:50 am

        Oops. Sorry for the double post. Didn’t get the confirming dialog box / refresh the first time, or even the second time.The good news is, there’s twice as many opportunities to present your side of the story ;)

        • Citizen Sane   November 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm

          OB,Doubly thoughtful.When I say massive, I really meant the capital requirements for RD&D compared to solar and wind. A few million can buy you some good solar/wind R&D, but it takes tens or hundreds of millions to build demo scale biomass plants. That’s what we want, though: big baseload-capable units. Don’t forget that we’ll have to replace the nuclear units too in a couple of decades.The scale issue on biomass is influenced by the ‘power block’ engineering, and for combined cycle or BIGCC the engineering efficiently scales at about 125 MW per unit. Just like today’s ‘cookie cutter’ natural gas plants. It is critical for economic sustainability to take every advantage of that gas turbine R&D (much of which came from military spending via aerospace, by the way). So it’s not the gasification, it’s the power block driving the thing.Having said that, the scale can change with technological developments. Smaller-scale gas turbine and steam generator integration can shrink the unit size and there are developments in this area. However, the 125MW gas CC is still the workhorse of the power industry. Look at the ads from Siemens, GE, Mitsubishi or other global firms to see them boast about breaking new efficiency records with the latest model. That’s the stuff you want to blow biomass gas through. But the gas has to be very very clean to avoid damaging those elegant beasts. Touchy fan blades, you know. Hence the R&D on hot gas cleanup etc. Check International Energy Agency Task 33, Thermal Gasification of Biomass, and read the meeting presentation archives for country-by-country summaries of R&D.The experts on that IEA group tend to think that supply economics limit unit size to under 50 MW….I think they are just discouraged. The supply chains we have now for coal, etc. would be considered insane if you described them to someone 100 years ago. People who are not fuels experts should try not to get depressed about it. Remember that many paper and logging mills take in millions of tons per year. It’s all about the money, and today delivered biomass can be had for less than coal in many parts of the US. If we only had bothered to maintain the 1990s R&D to have the conversion technologies (all the money got diverted to liquid fuels and clean coal)….

    • Guest   November 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm

      CS,Good points on biomass. There are tens of millions of acres of forest and brush land that is not suited for crops. We obviously won’t need all the timber for building houses in the future either. The key with biomass will be to decentralize production. In the west, it is not unusual to truck wood chips 50 – 100 miles to a cogen plant. Green chips have much too low of a heat value to make long trucking distances energy efficient. Smaller decentralized production will be the key to utilizing the vast forested areas of the western US.

  29. bcdogs   November 6, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    MA/Rich,Great read! I think Alt-enRGE is pretty catchy. What a fascinating field. It is hard to believe that US mass produced autos started a little over a 100 years ago…and the discoveries of Thomas Edison…how much our world has changed since then…I really, really love the Chris Farley reference to steak – I never heard that one, I’m going to be hooting and repeating that one for a while…

  30. Douglas Hvistendahl   November 7, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Suggest looking at this site! http://www.electricitystorage.org/index.htmlNote the importance of scale – for example, using compressed air energy storage for a laptop wouldn’t be practical, but at utility size it is. The smallest CAES I’ve heard of is the MDI work. To check it out, search on (“zero pollution motors” AND Citicat) then follow up on links suggested. This eliminates most battery problems, but isn’t suitable for small scale uses.There are other interesting resources – check out the Mother Earth News magazine which has emphasized these things on the popular level for 38 years. Note the value of local food sources by looking at cupboard packages and seeing how far they have been shipped.

  31. 2cents   November 7, 2008 at 11:45 am

    MA.Great post! … I warned you about the rigors of making weekly posts. As my mother would say, you signed up for the mission … see it through! You’ll eventually work out a balance. Good luck!A few comments about the subject matter. Your suspicion of hydro can be explained as follows: Almost all recent dams in the US were built primarily for flood control. We have since learned that building dams seriously alters the nature of rivers and streams. Nutrients get trapped behind the dams and diminish the downstream replenishment process. Floods have been found to be beneficial from an environmental standpoint. Nutrients get washed out of the stream bed and allow the plants in the flood zone to thrive. Eventually, most pools behind the dam fill in with this sediment and eventually need to be dredged. Incidentally, power generation at dams already equipped is diminished by the fact that pool levels behind the dam need to be moderated, and stream flow below the dam also need to be moderated. This means power generation is secondary to pool/flow management.The end result, is that virtually all the dams that will be built already exist in the US. Many dams would have already been destroyed if it were not for the populations below the dams that would have to be depopulated due to increased flooding. This leaves the main option of adding generation to existing dams.Secondly, I want to comment about you look at batteries. Batteries most likely will only be a short term solution for automobile use. Eventually, the power needs to be generated on demand. This will lead to a much lower energy output to weight ratio. This will increase the usable distance for the automobiles well as the shorten the replenishment cycle. I don’t have hard info. to run this to ground right now, but I would suggest keeping this line of thought open.Thirdly, I think that you need to keep your eye on biomass. I know Mark jumped on me in your previous post about biomass, but I think it’s coming to a point where microbiral production will break out into a separate category. We will find that bacteria and other microorganisms are the best hope in producing renewable energy in large quantities without damaging the environment or competing with our food supply and don’t use traditional fertilizer. These microorganisms can grow without oxygen to take organic matter and convert it to useful forms of energy such as methane, hydrogen, or even electricity. Then other bacteria or algae that can capture sunlight to produce new organic matter that can be turned into feed the first process.This MA is the future! It will allow our existing infrastructure to be reused, because the output products will be very similar if not nearly identical to the current products.

  32. Drsteph   November 7, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    MA,I’m more interested in evaluating the changeover from oil technology to alt-energy. But I don’t think the main changeover is going to be as radical as you expect. About 5 years ago, there seemed to be a moderate consensus on the net that big oil was preparing to switch from oil/gas delivery systems to hydrogen, with fuel cell technology driving a new generation of clean vehicles and existing service stations being modified to allow for hydrogen product delivery. There was much discussion about LNG terminals being built at ports for distribution of such product using tanker delivery. For big oil, this would be a wash allowing existing distribution networks to be converted and product to be sold in a similar manner. I’ve corresponded with Tom Barnett (forward thinker on military issues) on this issue and he seems to think that it will be driven by green concerns in US & China. There are also some geopolitical benefits to switching over to LNG technology but they escape me at the moment.Construction of these terminals seems to be proceeding:http://enr.construction.com/news/powerIndus/archives/070219.asp &http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2006/08/07/story11.html?f=et160&b=1154923200^1326273&hbx=e_verthttp://www.al.com/news/press-register/metro.ssf?/base/news/1223543784124630.xml&coll=3By the way, turns out that Iraq has an unbelievable amount of natural gas, just ready for LNG conversion:http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/sep/24/royaldutchshell.iraqLarge amounts of public and private money are being spent on these enterprises. I would only suggest that those doing so expect a return on their investments.One would assume that hydrogen power would necessitate some changes in infrastructure and new vehicle purchases with combustion engines eventually legislated out of existence. Now, the question is, how does one profit from this information?And P.S. all things being equal, I’m a fan of solar.

  33. Anonymous   November 7, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Energy Independence needs to be included in the realm of our economic issues. Our dependence on foreign oil impacts every aspect of our society and economy. This past year we were slammed by high prices at the pump that drained our wallets. The cost of food and every consumer product has risen because of increased production and shipping costs. The average family had no money left over to spend, save or invest. So we tighten our belts, we spend less because we have less and sadly that results in more job losses. We have so much available in the way of FREE energy, solar and wind that can be utilized to replace oil. Hybrid and electric plug in cars would could replace another huge percentage of our oil consumption if the technology was made more affordable to the average Joe. The last stimulus checks cost our government 168 BILLION. It did zip for our economy.That money could have gone a long way towards getting America started on the path to energy independence.Jeff Wilson has a great new book out called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in seeing our country become energy independent http:www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

  34. Guest from Canada   November 8, 2008 at 7:26 am

    Here is a November 7, front page article from one of Canada’s national newspapers on Alt-E with a focus on wind –Wind chill: Losing the PR battle over wind powerAre turbines making some people sick?

  35. Guest   November 9, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    -50% of the world’s reserves of lithium exist in Bolivia-Car batteries are far larger and Mitsubishi estimates the world will need 500 kilotonnes a year just to service a niche market. For electric cars to become the norm, it could need far more.-Mitsubishi predicts that there will be a supply shortage by 2015.-lithium plants – which produce sulphur dioxide.—————————catch 22?One is to keep more inventory in their warehouses, at considerable cost, so they can fill customers’ orders even if imports fail to show up as scheduled.The other alternative is for companies to shrink their supply chains, so that more products are made close to where they will be sold rather than halfway around the world.

  36. Hellasious   November 10, 2008 at 9:44 am

    There is another very important angle to alternative energy: geopolitical. And perhaps it’s the most important, when it comes to eventually convincing the Beltway inhabitants to move in a major way… major way meaning high oil import duties and massive “war-like” initiatives towards alt. energy.All the Best

  37. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 2:36 am

    A company here in Reno, Altair Nanotechnology (ALTI) has been working on an extremely efficient, long range, quick charging (10 min) nanotech battery for the Phoenix Electric SUV. See this video for info on both car and battery.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkXwwEC2p8&feature=relatedQuestion: Wouldn’t it make sense to offer citizens tax credits for replacing at least some of their many gas powered vehicles/toys with electric ones?

  38. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 2:36 am

    A company here in Reno, Altair Nanotechnology (ALTI) has been working on an extremely efficient, long range, quick charging (10 min) nanotech battery for the Phoenix Electric SUV. See this video for info on both car and battery.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkXwwEC2p8&feature=relatedQuestion: Wouldn’t it make sense to offer citizens tax credits for replacing at least some of their many gas powered vehicles/toys with electric ones?

  39. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 2:36 am

    A company here in Reno, Altair Nanotechnology (ALTI) has been working on an extremely efficient, long range, quick charging (10 min) nanotech battery for the Phoenix Electric SUV. See this video for info on both car and battery.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkXwwEC2p8&feature=relatedQuestion: Wouldn’t it make sense to offer citizens tax credits for replacing at least some of their many gas powered vehicles/toys with electric ones?

  40. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Also here in Reno, Ormat Technologies (OMA) is building small geothermal plants(20 KW or so). They provide off shore power solutions, too.Last year I looked into installing solar at a house I have in RI. Cost would have been around 20/25K for a system that would have provided enough power for the whole house.Now, as you undoubtedly know, storage is the expensive part of solar. But you can also hook up the system to simply provide power to the local utility company…IOW you produce power all day long, and your e-meter runs backwards. At night, your e-meter runs forward. You don’t store…you just produce and consume.So, for the same 20/25K we could have produced MORE electricity than we used, and wecould have dumped the excess back into the grid.In RI the electic company MUST buy your home generated power, and if you generate more than you use you’ll have a credit on your bill.I couldn’t get my husband to go along with it because of the initial cost and paltry tax incentives from state and federal gov’ts. But if we could have gotten, say a $5,000 yearly tax credit for 4 years we would have done it in a heartbeat.Wouldn’t it make sense on a number of levels for the government to offer 100% tax rebates, spread out over a number of years?You’d get LOTS of people to go for that. You’d reduce the strain on the power grid(more troubled infrastructure). You’d decentralize power production, making it much more difficult for acts of nature/incompetence/terrorism to blackout huge chunks of s/territory. You’d provide jobs, encourage green business, cut use of oil/gas/coal/nuclear, save money by not having to build MORE power plants.If you pursued this bottom up energy policy and also offered tax credits to buy electric/hybrid vehicles, I bet you’d see a huge (oh no!) bubble of consumer spending in this area.If you gave people enough of an incentive, they’d spend money now to get it back later. Isn’t that what we really need to happen now?

  41. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Also here in Reno, Ormat Technologies (OMA) is building small geothermal plants(20 KW or so). They provide off shore power solutions, too.Last year I looked into installing solar at a house I have in RI. Cost would have been around 20/25K for a system that would have provided enough power for the whole house.Now, as you undoubtedly know, storage is the expensive part of solar. But you can also hook up the system to simply provide power to the local utility company…IOW you produce power all day long, and your e-meter runs backwards. At night, your e-meter runs forward. You don’t store…you just produce and consume.So, for the same 20/25K we could have produced MORE electricity than we used, and wecould have dumped the excess back into the grid.In RI the electic company MUST buy your home generated power, and if you generate more than you use you’ll have a credit on your bill.I couldn’t get my husband to go along with it because of the initial cost and paltry tax incentives from state and federal gov’ts. But if we could have gotten, say a $5,000 yearly tax credit for 4 years we would have done it in a heartbeat.Wouldn’t it make sense on a number of levels for the government to offer 100% tax rebates, spread out over a number of years?You’d get LOTS of people to go for that. You’d reduce the strain on the power grid(more troubled infrastructure). You’d decentralize power production, making it much more difficult for acts of nature/incompetence/terrorism to blackout huge chunks of s/territory. You’d provide jobs, encourage green business, cut use of oil/gas/coal/nuclear, save money by not having to build MORE power plants.If you pursued this bottom up energy policy and also offered tax credits to buy electric/hybrid vehicles, I bet you’d see a huge (oh no!) bubble of consumer spending in this area.If you gave people enough of an incentive, they’d spend money now to get it back later. Isn’t that what we really need to happen now?

  42. P&L   December 26, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Also here in Reno, Ormat Technologies (OMA) is building small geothermal plants(20 KW or so). They provide off shore power solutions, too.Last year I looked into installing solar at a house I have in RI. Cost would have been around 20/25K for a system that would have provided enough power for the whole house.Now, as you undoubtedly know, storage is the expensive part of solar. But you can also hook up the system to simply provide power to the local utility company…IOW you produce power all day long, and your e-meter runs backwards. At night, your e-meter runs forward. You don’t store…you just produce and consume.So, for the same 20/25K we could have produced MORE electricity than we used, and wecould have dumped the excess back into the grid.In RI the electic company MUST buy your home generated power, and if you generate more than you use you’ll have a credit on your bill.I couldn’t get my husband to go along with it because of the initial cost and paltry tax incentives from state and federal gov’ts. But if we could have gotten, say a $5,000 yearly tax credit for 4 years we would have done it in a heartbeat.Wouldn’t it make sense on a number of levels for the government to offer 100% tax rebates, spread out over a number of years?You’d get LOTS of people to go for that. You’d reduce the strain on the power grid(more troubled infrastructure). You’d decentralize power production, making it much more difficult for acts of nature/incompetence/terrorism to blackout huge chunks of s/territory. You’d provide jobs, encourage green business, cut use of oil/gas/coal/nuclear, save money by not having to build MORE power plants.If you pursued this bottom up energy policy and also offered tax credits to buy electric/hybrid vehicles, I bet you’d see a huge (oh no!) bubble of consumer spending in this area.If you gave people enough of an incentive, they’d spend money now to get it back later. Isn’t that what we really need to happen now?

  43. MA   January 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Hello P&LI don’t usually check old posts… I did today. I’ll look into ALTI/OMA (I’d swear I read something on ALTI somewhere?!?!?!)From what I understand, the elctric company “buybacks” are pennies on the dollar. I suspect this may change? Maybe local neighborhoods can create their own excess hubs, that can then further sell and compete against the local power authorities??? How about power stations instead of gas stations! Where the community powered the roads instead of the middle east?It’s something I’ve been postulating, but (unfortunately) don’t see happening.Miss America

    • P&L   January 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks for the response…here’s something to consider for your next alt energy post…electric bikes! This company, located in Boulder, CO, is producing the most amazing, AMERICAN MADE e-bikes. A very interesting guy here in Reno has one and reps for the company locally. Good backstory on him and the company.http://www.optibike.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=217&Itemid=270