Week in review – energy, water and food edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.


How women could benefit from fuel subsidy reform [link]

Wind energy and crony capitalism [link]

UK aims for 57% carbon cut but lacks policies to get there [link]

Bill Gates:  Fantastic research is going on to make batteries better and more affordable: [link]

Tidal energy may be ready to be commercialized. Are we making a mistake installing solar, wind? [link]

Fragile States, Deep Uncertainty and Energy Planning. [link]

Congress vs. the Zombie Coal Amendment. There’s no reason the military needs to ship coal from Pennsylvania to Germany. [link]

Extreme Oil Prices May Be Costly to the Climate [link]…

#Coal Isn’t Dying Because There’s a War on It -[link]

Climate change or not, power-starved India just can’t help burning more coal [link]

Energy-efficient homes: yes, we want them. But we haven’t done the work. [link]

Stanford Professor’s New Zero-Net Energy Home Sets the Standard for Green Living [link]


Stressed Indus River threatens Pakistan’s water supplies [link]


Intermittent Domestic #Water Supply: A Critical Review & Analysis of Causal-Consequential Pathways  [link]

Damming the Future: The Struggle to Protect Kenya’s Ewaso Ngiro River. [link]


Can we learn to live with flooding? [link]

What should Jordan’s irrigation agency do to keep supplying water? [link]



Under EU policy, farmers dump produce in Africa, undercutting African farmers, while EU tariffs hurt African imports [link]

The price of LEDs is falling so fast it’s profitable to farm in a New Jersey nightclub [link]

Forage radish is the cream of cover crops, say experts [link]…


88 responses to “Week in review – energy, water and food edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – energy, water and food edition – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. “Coal is a dirty fuel with all sorts of major health and environmental issues.”
    – from a comment.

    The fuel all of us use to create energy, called “food” has all sorts of major health and environment issues as well.

    Needs CO2 and H2O to grow it. Requires vast amounts of chemicals – fertilisers, pesticides – in its production. Ruins beautiful untouched landscapes. Consumes vast amounts of energy from fossil fuels to process and transport it. All the animal products we eat, come from dead animals.

    The waste products excreted require vast sewerage infrastructure, and can lead to outbreaks of serious diseases. And on it goes.

    Life has adverse aspects. Banning coal is unlikely to be of net benefit, given present knowledge.

    All fuels have health and environmental issues. Some major, some minor. Picking on coal because James Hansen suffers from a coal phobia seems odd. Keeping smokestack emissions down to CO2 and H2O would seem to avoid most perceived problems.


  3. Athraciteophobia, is it real or does it really exist?

    • Arch Stanton,

      Maybe James Hansen suffers from pneumoconiosophobia – the fear of the lung disease. Or possibly melanophobia, or the simple carbophobia.

      I like your anthraciteophobia, but James Hansen seemed to be of the view that all trains carrying coal were “Trains of Death”, probably including lignite, and bituminous coal. Maybe you could have anthracitobituminolignocarbhobia!

      He might even develop catagelophobia – the irrational fear of being ridiculed!


      • Damn! Anthracitobituminolignocarbophobia, of course.

        My rotten spellchecker didn’t autocorrect very well, did it?


  4. Carbon dioxide levels have risen inexorably since the 1700s. Yet despite this, climate sensitive indicators of human and environmental wellbeing that carbon dioxide affects directly, such as crop yields, food production, prevalence of hunger, access to cleaner water and biological productivity, and those that it affects indirectly, such as living standards and life expectancies, have improved virtually everywhere. In most areas they have never been higher, nor do they show any sustained signs of reversing. ~Freeman Dyson

  5. David Springer

    Sent from android phone. No problemo. Even use voice recognition for dictation. Apple products are crap.

  6. Professor Curry,

    Western society is deeply troubled by evidence our political leaders used public research funds to deceive the public about energy that powers the universe and sustains our lives.

    Deceptive government science also isolated humanity from reality (God), living in irrational fear of mysterious and powerful explosions that fill the heavens:


    That is the message from my research mentor (Paul Kazuo Kuroda) that I feel inadequate to successfully communicate at the GeoEthics Conference in London.

  7. Coal is collapsing. States now increasingly use natural gas to provide cleaner and cheaper energy to their customers and this shift is putting the miners out of jobs. Republicans, like now Trump is, want to get people back into those mines producing inefficient coal, while Clinton wants to find them new jobs that are worth more to society and to specifically target these communities for incentives to replace their lost jobs.

    • Curious George

      The City of Oakland, California banned an export of toxic coal from their new bulk cargo terminal. The ships calling at that port use fuel that is much more toxic than coal. I hereby propose to ban toxic ships from the Port of Oakland. Allow only clean sailing ships.

      • Coal is usually burned closer to where people live than ship fuel, so there is a difference there.

      • Curious George

        Even in Oakland, they don’t burn coal while exporting it.

      • Maybe they care about who they are exporting to, especially if it is toxic as you say. Seems like due diligence.

      • CG:

        There are already rules in place to reduce pollutants from ocean-going vessels in US waters. https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/marpol-annex-vi
        Despite that, the fuel oil being burned under these rules is still pretty nasty stuff.

        In contrast, I took a cruise on the Celebrity Infinity a few years ago. It’s a cleaner-burning gas turbine ship with some impressive navigation technologies. Nevertheless, pilot error in high wind cnditions can easily overcome the best side thrusters and result in something like this crash in Ketchikan a few weeks ago.


      • Curious George

        Happy Independence Day to everybody. Coal may be more toxic than sand, but it is certainly less toxic than crushed granite. Or the brains of Oakland.

    • Jim D,

      From the article you linked Clinton said:

      Look, we have serious economic problems in many parts of our country….

      I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country…

      Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

      So whether it’s coal country or Indian country or poor urban areas, there is a lot of poverty in America….

      So I am passionate about this, which is why I have put forward specific plans about how we incentivize more jobs, more investment in poor communities, and put people to work.

      So Clinton believes that banning the least costly and most efficient fuel sources we have — fossil fuels — requiring the wasting trillions of dollars on much more costly and inefficient renewables, is the way to ameliorate the “serious economic problems in many parts of our country”?

      Clinton is an economic illiterate.

      Cheap and abundant energy is an essential ingredient to the healthy functioning of our economy, and what Clinton is advocating is economic suicide.

      As to Clinton’s feigned concern for the poor, it is a well-known fact that a falling tide will lower all boats.

      • I should add that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And when it comes to destroying the fossil fuel industry — and cheap and abundant energy — the state can intervene in several ways to achieve Clinton’s desired end, including:

        1) Lavishly subsidizing renewables (see: Wind energy and crony capitalism [link])

        2) Imposing a carbon tax (see: Extreme Oil Prices May Be Costly to the Climate [link]…), and

        3) Regulating carbon emissions

        It is the last of these that Clinton has chosen, and she intends to greatly expand the powers of the imperial presidency to achieve it:

        Hillary Clinton’s Ambitious Climate Change Plan Avoids Carbon Tax

        Hillary Clinton, courting young voters and the broader Democratic base, has promised to one-up President Obama on climate change, vowing to produce a third of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2027, three years faster than Mr. Obama, while spending billions of dollars to transform the energy economy….

        And, she says, she could achieve all that without new legislation from Congress….

        John Podesta, a former senior counselor to Mr. Obama who is now the chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, is an architect of both the Obama and Clinton climate change plans. In crafting them, Mr. Podesta, an ardent environmentalist and a seasoned political operative, sought to take substantive action to reduce emissions without turning to Congress, where climate legislation would most likely again be doomed.

        “Secretary Clinton believes that meeting the climate challenge is too important to wait for climate deniers in Congress to pass comprehensive climate legislation,” Mr. Podesta wrote in an emailed statement.

        While Mr. Podesta’s climate plan for Mr. Obama centered on using the Clean Air Act to write new regulations to limit emissions from vehicles and power plants, a Clinton administration could return to the same law to issue rules on emissions from other slices of the economy, including the airline industry, oil refineries, gas production wells and cement manufacturers….

      • Not being cheap is why coal is losing. Even if you replace miners with machinery or more efficient methods, it doesn’t become cheap and you still have to find the miners other jobs. Realism needs to set in on this.

      • “As to Clinton’s feigned concern for the poor, it is a well-known fact that a falling tide will lower all boats.”

        I don’t know about that. Was it you that pointed out the median household income is dropping in the nation? So, by one way of thinking, the country is still in recession: i.e., the tide is receding. Yet, the well off (including myself, I might add), continue to do well, better in fact.

      • edbarbar said:

        Yet, the well off (including myself, I might add), continue to do well, better in fact.

        “Continue to do well” can mean many things.

        If we look at the income for the top 400 taxpayers in the United States, they certainly “continue to do well,” but not as well as they did in 2007. Their mean income has dropped by 30% from 2007 to 2013, the last year the IRS has published data for this group:


        In 2013 the average income of the top 400 taxpayers in the United States was $264.9 million. So they certainly “continue to do well,” but they are not doing nearly so well as they once did.

      • The income of the very wealthy is an odd indicator. Wealth is disconnected from income for the very wealthy.

      • edbarbar said:

        Wealth is disconnected from income for the very wealthy.

        Especially in an era of QE, ZIRP and even negative interest rates, and casino capitalism.

  8. ” Paul Kangas disqus_ZhzNhBKfH0 • 8 days ago

    Germany has banned fracking by building 70,000 new 100-panel solar homes.
    Germany is shutting down all, I repeat, ALL its nukes by
    building 100-panel solar homes.
    China just banned opening anymore coal fired power plants,
    as China reaches for 100% solar power by 2030.
    Surly California can catch up with Germany by 2020.”

    I always though California was a bit surly :)

  9. Curious George

    Stanford professor’s zero-net energy home. To my surprise, the professor is not a famous Paul Ehrlich, but a new rising star, Mark Z. Jacobson. The article has a beautifully Photoshopped home, and no numbers at all. Wayne State University would be proud of Professor Jacobson.

    • Curious George,

      Another fluff piece of wishful thinking –

      “I will use electric cars, heat pumps for air and water heating, and an electric induction stove. The house will be powered by solar panels on the rooftop and energy will be stored using Tesla batteries in the garage.”

      I wish him luck. Time will no doubt separate fact from fantasy.

      Are there any people who’ve actually achieved this ideal, or only people who are sure they can do it – tomorrow, next week, next year . . . ?

      I thought about going off grid some years ago, but it was expensive, complicated, and required too many compromises in life style.

      Maybe tomorrow, next week, next year . .


      • Mike Flynn

        There are at least 1.2 billion people in the world who live off the grid, that is, have no electricity at all. They also have a shortened life span, die of tuberculosis, and continue to deforest and degrade the lands about them.

        Did you ask your significant other whether or not they were willing to live a life of drudgery, die young and unexpectantly, and leave a legacy of hardship to your children?

        Please let me know how you accomplished such a maneuver without your significant other not walking away.

      • RiHo08,

        Like myself, she declined the opportunity to live without the grid, for reasons not unsimilar to those you mention. I may have mentioned a close family member who does live off grid, however. Apparently not a lot of fun when something goes wrong.

        I agree with you. People who preach self sufficiency should try it for a while. The peasant farmer is more or less self sufficient, and lives a short, brutish and miserable life as a result – generally speaking.

        I’m thankful for what I’ve got, and just try not to be too wasteful. To each his own, I guess.


    • Well, it did note that the home was 3,200 square feet, which is closer to McMansion territory than EcoCottage. Of course you want lots of square footage so you have a place to hang thousands of square feet of solar panels.

      But no worries about cost because Jacobson will earn $0.15 per KWh selling his waste power back to the local electrical utility, at his convenience. Of course the utility could generate the same power for maybe one third of that price, and do so when other customers actually need it. But I get the feeling the good professor could care less about other rate payers.

      I will guess some numbers for a system which can pay at least the mortgage interest:

      Home Construction: 3,200 sq ft X $200 = $640,000
      Land anywhere near Stanford: $260,000
      Solar Installation with Powerwall and Fast Charger: $100,000
      Total $1,000,000

      $1,000,000 x 3% interest = 30,000 of annual income needed from PV
      $30,000 / 0.15 = 200,000 KWh of excess power required for resale
      10,000 KWh needed to power home and car
      210,000 KWh required from PV installation

      210,000 / 1,800 hrs = 117 KW of PV panel required
      Note: 1,800 hrs = 360 days x 5 hrs effective sunlight per day
      117 KW at $3,000 per KW = $351,000 cost for PV installation

      Looks like my initial guess was off a little… about $250,000 off!
      My numbers would still work if the land was free and the massive PV installation lasts forever and requires no maintenance or repair, and if the utility will pay at least $0.15 per KWh in perpetuity. Note that over 1,000 110 watt panels will be needed for this system! And if mortgage interest goes back up to 6%, then the PV installation would need to be about twice as large to pay the interest on a similar home.

  10. Forage radish. Lord, save us from fools. The intent of late season cover crops is erosion control and soil renewal. The latter requires nitrogen fixing legumes. (Fixing is in symbiontic root bacteria, not the plant.) So plant clover or vetch. Or, nitrogen fertilize and plant winter wheat.

    • Gee, Rud must be in one of his grumpy moods again lately. I’ve used the giant radish successfully on my highly compacted clay and more alkaline soils. Plant really drives deep in soils, un-compacting it, plus adding a tremendous amount or organic matter (SOM) compared to other cover crops.

    • Curious George

      The fact that crop rotations have been used for centuries does not mean that they must be optimal. I am all for experimenting with alternatives, but not for making far-reaching recommendations based on a sample of size 2 (two). Or maybe, they made a great progress in statistics and a sample of 2 is now sufficient. I recommend reading Asimov’s The Franchise, where statistics is advanced enough to replace the U.S. elections by polling a voter sample of size 1. (It would come handy in 2016.)

      • Curious George In the context of the Ag story, Rud’s comment, and my comment, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

      • Curious George

        Forage radish is the cream of cover crops, say experts – after running a test for two years, in one type of soil, in one climate. They sound like fast-fermented experts – or, marketing experts.

      • Curious George — No one in Ag (not even the authors) would disagree with you as to what this study actually showed.

  11. 24m liIon. Right. Last time Chiang spun some battery IPR out of MIT was A123 Systems. Bankrupt failure of the self assembling nanostructure premise.. This is nuttier than A123. The core issues with LiIon have little to do with this new MSM presser. Neither MIT nor Tesla have solved them. Is all in the legit scientific literature already. SEI buildup, cathode volumetric disintegration,…

    • Chiang’s new battery design has been in the news for a while (patents filed 5 years ago). It’s good to see that prototypes are now rolling off his machinery to be tested for durability, etc.

      I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the newer design because of past failures of the same founders. That’s often the way Silicon Valley moves forward — though I suppose that here it is Route 128.

      • Curious George

        “The company … hopes utilities will buy its batteries to store electricity from wind and solar farms and deliver power during peak-demand hours.” The main advantage of lithium is that it is very light, therefore it is used for mobile applications. But storing wind and solar power? Is it so much better than lead-acid?

  12. An energy fact: Exxon announces giant oil discovery offshore Guayana – http://news.exxonmobil.com/press-release/exxonmobil-says-second-well-offshore-guyana-confirms-significant-oil-discovery

    This field should have roughly 1 billion barrels. As far as I know it’s the largest oil discovery in 2016. The world consumes 29 billion barrels of crude oil and condensate per year.

    All signs point to a balancing oil market, which in turn leads to oil prices reaching ~$65 per barrel. Given finding-development-production costs we are experiencing, and the current decline rates from existing reservoirs, I would guess prices will exceed $110 per barrel by 2020 at the latest (if there’s no world financial crisis, etc).

  13. RE: Extreme Oil Prices May Be Costly to the Climate [link]…

    This article tacitly acknowledges that renewables cannot compete cost-wise with coal, much less with the cheaper oil and natural gas brought about by advances in fracking and horizontal drilling technology.

    In order to make renewables competitive, fossil fuels must be made more expensive, and the author recommends a carbon tax to achieve this.

    What the author omits is that cheap and abundant energy is a necessary ingredient required for the healthy functioning of the economy. High energy prices — and the vast sums of money and resources wasted on inefficient and costly energy production from renewables — translate to lower economic performance of the aggregate economy.

  14. Ian Storey

    Question for Judith Curry – Have you read “Vapor Tiger” by Adrian Vance? It seems to provide a very convincing explanation of CO2 and its influence on our planet.

    Ian Storey

  15. And now for something completely different
    Corona Beer Supplies Tragedy
    A brewery satisfying Americans’ thirst for Mexican beers such as Corona is sucking so much water from wells in an arid region near the US border that it has left one municipality bone dry, according to a local mayor.

    “WE HAVE NO WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION,” Mayor Leoncio Martínez Sánchez of the municipality of Zaragoza, wrote in single-sentence letter to Coahuila state governor Rubén Moreira.


  16. UK ministers to approve world-leading carbon emissions target

    But it still isn’t enough

    After Paris, UK’s latest ‘carbon budget’ just isn’t ambitious enough

    Maybe they won’t even get that

    Brexit doubt weighs on green energy groups

  17. johnvonderlin

    “Stanford Professor New Net Zero Energy Home Sets the Standard for Green Living”
    I’ve often written Letters to the Editor attacking the analyses of “early adopters,” green activists, solar enthusiasts and special interests in regards to photovoltaic systems. However, sciguy’s upthread analysis of the Stanford professor’s project left me scratching my head. Let me see if I can put things in better focus, particularly in regards to the Big Picture.
    First off, his estimate, $260K, of the value of a lot in Palo Alto made me laugh. I doubt you could find an outhouse on a lot for less than a million in Palo Alto. Secondly, in the Valley, construction costs of $200 a square foot are unrealistic except for poor quality projects, not something like the professor is building. His house, sans his renewables project, would certainly cost him at least$2 million and if it is in any nice neighborhood, more than $3 million.
    While I don’t fault “sciguy” for not bothering to research online his facts about our local insane real estate market, I do fault much of his other reasoning. Instead of the irrelevant reasoning behind his assertion the prof would need 117KW of PV to pay for the interest on his mortgage, I maintain that with a 10KW PV system, (S25K) two PowerWalls ($3K each) and assorted accessories ($4K) he’d be good to go for about $35K. The builder is quoted as saying “Our shells are net zero ready, meaning they are extremely energy efficient and with the addition of a small solar system they can produce more energy than they consume.” Stanford, where he works, is just up the road, meaning his Tesla’s power needs shouldn’t stress the system either.
    And it is the fact that he works at Stanford, specifically as “the head of the Atmosphere and Energy Program at Stanford University, that makes this a wise choice for him, irrespective of the likelihood of it penciling out economically…”I study climate and air pollution problems and try to solve them through large scale, clean, renewable energy and I try to practice what I preach,” he said.
    However, in regards to it making economic sense, knowing the buyers in this area, many newly-made millionaires from various startups as well as “Google, Facebook, LinkdedIn, etc. this guy has created an iconic property, that if he should decide to sell, will pay him an enormous return on his investment. And that’s the Big Picture.

    • John

      I looked at the possibility of paying the mortgage because the comments to the actual article included lots of nonsense about PV cells paying the cost of a home’s mortgage. My numbers show that this is false, even when the utility is forced to buy back power at retail prices. Yes, an owner could specify a 10kw PV array and generate only enough net power to supply the ongoing home and auto requirements. But the energy investment in concrete slabs, steel, finishes, PV arrays, and batteries are outside such a calculation. The PV cells, batteries, and control units have as yet unproven life spans so it is hard to calculate a true energy budget for them.

      I do have some familiarity with real estate prices in the Mountain View area. In my analysis I bent over backwards to make some assumptions which were conservative, which could be somewhat relevant to most readers, and which would yield relatively easy to follow numbers. With a US median household income hovering slightly above $50,000, a million dollar home with an unusually high percentage of limited-lifespan components is already pretty far out in the stratosphere. In this part of California, however, a project such as this, publicity notwithstanding, will hardly seem iconic 10 or 20 years from now. I wish the professor good luck, but I would not expect to see significant excess profits come his way. Typically, cutting edge technology suffers unexpected problems and depreciates rapidly, while non-reproducible goods such as land will appreciate in the face of continuing demand. By loading his home with depreciating components Jacobson has likely increased his investment risk.

      As an aside, this appears to be a very attractive home, but as an ex PE in civil/structural design I have done a fair amount of research into lightweight steel framing. The article makes claims that such framing saves time and money over more traditional methods and contributes somehow to a more energy-efficient structure. The Bay area does not have severe temperature swings so thermal efficiency is not really a critical factor. But lightweight steel homes in Rochester or Minneapolis or even Atlanta would require thermal breaks on the internal and external surfaces of exterior walls. This is typically done by way of sheet metal hat sections (as seen in the garage photos), with all voids filled with either foam or blown-in insulation. But by the time this extra work is accomplished, along with x bracing and other required structural details, there is no net savings in time and materials as compared to wood framing.

      • johnvonderlin

        Hi Sciguy,
        Your “Comments” explanation clears that aspect up. I did not read them in this case, but often find them to be as interesting as the articles they spring from.
        As I mentioned in my comment I often criticize the “Pie in the Sky” analyses of first adopters and others emotionally or financially invested. in some matter. I agree there is no way this project pencils out economically in regards to energy savings. His owning a Tesla speaks volumes in that regard.
        However, his house is already getting lots of local publicity, with tours being organized even before it is finished. For the newly-minted millionaires, enamored in the technology that gave them this wealth, it is an irresistible honey pot should it come on the market.
        If you are familiar with the odd multiple domed house near the Father Sierra statue on 280 you know these kind of iconic structures demand a premium price even decades later. (The so-called Flintstone House at 45 Berryessa Rd. Hillsborough, is for sale for about $4 mill right now despite its structural problems, odd location and age)
        I’ve watched enough “Antique Roadshow” episodes to know that subtle aspects of provenance can be powerful magnifiers of worth. If “Washington Slept Here,” ,is a relevant metaphor, “We want to do a TV segment on your house,” is truly seductive. Acquired status is a powerful force. Ask any trophy wife.
        I was interested in what neighborhood the house was in, but was unsuccessful in discovering it. Maybe I’ll tour it before it is finished in October, just to see how the other half lives. It is on an odd-shaped lot on a cul de sac, which helps with valuation. The construction costs are estimated at $1.5 million (“north of $400 a sq. ft”) My estimate of $3 million for the project was probably low. I did find out that the system is judged adequate for two electric cars, though there is some confusion if one or two PowerWalls are involved.

      • John

        That is all good info. I don’t have much call to go that way these days but maybe I can eyeball it sometime.

        The house itself doesn’t strike me as something which will stand out a decade from now in that market, but I have never been much of a huckster. I would be curious to know if Jacobson managed some special discounts for major parts of his project. If his intent is to promote and then sell he may be a sly dog after all. If he chooses to live there for a decade before moving on, the project may not look quite as shiny by then. But if he started with lots of free or discounted components perhaps he will have done well in any case.

        The beginning point of this conversation was that old solar slight-of-hand that electricity generated in one big slug around the midday hours has the same value as electricity generated just-in-time to meet demand. The ongoing problem is that given battery technology today and the geographical and technological limitations of other storage methods, the answer for the foreseeable future is that storage and retrieval usually costs more than baseline generation.

        In particular regarding this home… Solar city apparently quotes about $7,000 installed price for one 7 KWh Powerwall ( see here: (http://www.catalyticengineering.com/top-ten-facts-about-teslas-350kwh-powerwall-battery/ ) But at a rated steady output of 2 KW it certainly cannot power the A/C and the induction stove and the water heater at the same time, so you will need to draw power from the utility at those peak times or you will need multiple Powerwalls to handle such loads, or you will need some sort of automated power management system to decide how to deal with such conflicts and live with those restrictions. And of course you will lose maybe 10-20 % of any energy you cycle through the battery, and each battery will depreciate by about $1 per cycle, double that if the rest of the installation must be upgraded when the battery is replaced, and of course you have to pay interest on the up-front cost. (Tesla quotes 92% efficiency but that is at 450 VDC and the current must be transformed going into and out of the battery. )

  18. Juncker to give way on EU-Canada trade plan
    Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, is preparing to ditch contentious plans to fast-track approval of a trade deal with Canada, in an eleventh-hour political retreat that followed staunch criticism from some European capitals.

    To the dismay of Germany and France, Mr Juncker had tried to speed up the formal adoption of the EU-Canada deal by having it approved by trade ministers and MEPs, without the need for 38 national parliaments, some of them regional, to sign it off.

    Speaks for itself.

  19. Webtubhubble… Saw this and remembered you.


    Pop a cold one buddy, we have a few more years to go before peak oil now.

    • As to peak gas, we’ve seen the East Med discoveries in the last couple of years which will make Egypt, Israel, Cyprus players. Australia’s Goliath project came on stream only this year and, while cost-sensitive, it’s huge.

      Geopolitics and energy politics are like the climate: we only pretend they can stay the same to make our bedtime easier. Look at these strange bedfellows:
      What with other projects to pipe to India, you wonder how long Russia can stay best buds with Iran.

      Never mind. It’ll all get turned on its ear again…just as the latest book explaining the future based on a non-existent status quo is coming off the presses.

      To the west of me, in the Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin, there are centuries of supply of the best Permian black coal, and west of all that there’s a continent with massive uranium reserves dotted around.

      Nothing is going to peak, much of this stuff will be left in the ground when someone comes up with better ideas for energy. The trick is never to ask the nappy-moisteners of Big Green what those better ideas are.

  20. From the article:

    Rystad Energy estimates recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia’s 212bn and Russia’s 256bn in reserves.

    The analysis of 60,000 fields worldwide, conducted over a three-year period by the Oslo-based group, shows total global oil reserves at 2.1tn barrels. This is 70 times the current production rate of about 30bn barrels of crude oil a year, Rystad Energy said on Monday.

    Recoverable reserves — those barrels that are technologically and economically feasible to extract — are analysed by the energy industry to determine company valuations and the long-term health of an oil-producing nation’s economy.

    Conventional oil producers, such as Saudi Arabia, have traditionally used their huge resource riches to wield power globally, particularly among big consumer countries such as the US.

    This relationship has been disrupted in recent years by hydraulic fracturing and other new technologies that have helped the US unlock vast reserves and enabled it to become more energy independent.

    “There is little potential for future surprises in many other countries, but in the US there is,” said Per Magnus Nysveen, analyst at Rystad Energy, noting recent discoveries in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, which is the nation’s most prolific oil producing area. “Three years ago the US was behind Russia, Canada and Saudi Arabia.”

  21. Peter Lang

    I have a serious question I’d like to ask those who advocate the world needs to reduce energy consumption.

    The question is: What level of per capita energy consumption do they suggest we should strive for by 2020, 2050 and 2100?

    Should we return to the stage of:
    Primitive man: 8 MJ/d
    Hunting man: 20 MJ/d
    Primitive agricultural man: 48 MJ/d
    Advanced agricultural man: 108 MJ/d
    Industrial man: 308 MJ/d
    Technological man: 920 MJ/d
    Source: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4313879?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    Or should we accept that per capita energy consumption has been increasing at the rate of 1100x^-0.4 for the past 200,000 years (where x = years before present) and, therefore, per capita energy consumption is likely to increase indefinitely. We have no idea what future humans will achieve (e.g. exploring this universe, going through black holes to explore other universes and returning safely to Earth … in time for dinner :)

  22. Planning Engineer and Rud — Comments?

    For Maximum Renewable Integration, Load Following Is King“:


    • Planning Engineer & Rud — In your comments could you include things that you would agree with?

    • thx for this link.

      • Peter Lang


        I trust you recognise that the link is disingenuous renewables propaganda.

        “We cannot match demand variation with fixed output sources like coal and nuclear alone. We must add flexible ones like gas to do that.”

        That statement is disingenuous and highly misleading. Nuclear and coal are both capable of load folllowing and have been capable since the beginning of bot technologies. Whether to implement load following nuclear is purely a case of the economics. It is cheaper to make other technologies do the load following up to the point where nuclear supplies approaching 75% of the electricity. Conversely, wind and solar need to be backed up with load following capability from the very start (or extremely expensive storage).

        Wind and solar add very high hidden system costs. Nuclear does not. OECD estimates that at 30% penetration, system costs for solar, wind nuclear and coal are (average of six OECD countries, in $/MWh)):
        nuclear: $2.1
        coal: $0.9
        gas: $0.5
        onshore wind: $31.8
        offshore wind: $36.8
        solar: $55.6

        That is, according to this OECD analysis, at 30% penetration system costs for onshore wind are 15x and solar are 25x nuclear.
        (The OECD report is here: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf
        Summary by Martin Nicholson here: http://www.energyinachangingclimate.info/Counting%20the%20hidden%20costs%20of%20energy.pdf)

        Furthermore, the ERP report (http://erpuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ERP-Flex-Man-Full-Report.pdf) shows that the cheapest way to reduce GB’s GHG emissions to 50 g/kWh is by adding around 30 GW of new nuclear and no new weather dependent renewables. That analysis compares the entire system cost for different mixes of different technologies. (Explanation here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/19/is-nuclear-the-cheapest-way-to-decarbonize-electricity/)

        We need to be very cautious with these renewable advocacy articles. Most are misleading and disingenuous. If they don’t compare the total system cost of different technology mixes on a properly comparable basis, appropriate reality checks and scepticism is warranted. Belief that renewables are economic or can ever make much of a contribution to world energy supply is an unrealistic and irrational belief.

        Belief in weather dependent renewables is a religion!

    • But that’s not all. There must be enough generation available so that unplanned generation failures can be quickly substituted with other sources. These are referred to as reserves.

      One of the great things about CCGT is use for reserves. The capital cost is very low compared to other “baseload” capable capacity. Most (or at least much more than for coal) of the cost is in fuel, which you don’t pay if you don’t use. (It’s also much faster to ramp than coal.)

      AFAIK CCGT can be acquired with full fuel flexibility for gas and liquid hydrocarbons. At a small premium for shut-down switch-over, presumably a higher one for hot-switching. (I haven’t actually seen cost figures for the latter.)

      If you put in enough CCGT capacity to meet the maximum requirement, then solar and/or wind can pay for themselves in saved fuel costs. In many locals it’s already cost-effective, and by 2020 it’ll be so in many others.

    • West Texas is one of the best places in the nation for solar:


      Texas recently finished its CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) initiative, a $7 billion effort to connect west Texas to growing cities in the eastern half of the state.

      In June, ERCOT released its ‘Long-term System Assessment.’

      It projects a solar boom for Texas, and that by 2031 Solar capacity will grow from 3% of total to 17%.


      But the capacity mix will create more daily challenges. The reduced coal and increased solar create potential shortages in ramping capacity between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. if energy storage is not available, the report notes — the “duck curve” problem identified in California and on other systems with high solar penetrations.

      By 2031, the ERCOT system could see ramping shortages when demand peaks over 18 GW in the evening and other resources are inadequate.



      Planners don’t seem to have a solution for the problem, other than to hope the storage problem gets solved by then:

      [B]ut such issues were not present when researchers modeled for a scenario with high energy storage and electric vehicle adoption.

      • IIRC West Texas has plenty of high relief. Pumped hydro using small “turkey-nest” reservoirs made using levy-building technology could probably be installed fairly cheaply. Use plastic sheeting to prevent evaporation, make it opaque to reduce algae.

        The key is that big expensive reservoirs could probably be avoided for short-term storage. And having all that full-time rotating inertia would be a benefit.

        If the market makers could ever get off their duffs and figure out a way to properly reward ancillary services.

      • Mr. Stehle is again just incorrect with his comments (“Planners don’t seem to have a solution to a potential problem that might exist in 2031”).

        Mr. Stehle evidently didn’t read the “duck curve” link to the article he cited: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/10-ways-to-solve-the-renewable-duck-curve

        A decent article addressing the distinct engineering concepts that Mr. Stehle is lumping together: (1) Ramping (up and down) and the (2) “Duck Curve”: http://www.cleanenergyleaders.org/a-balancing-act-ramping-capabilities-in-wholesale-electricity-markets/

      • Stephen Segrest,

        We’ve had this conversation before, and you, just like all the green tech publications you cite, think you can just click your heels three times and make the intermittency problem of wind and solar go away.

        Reality, however, is not so accomodating to these fantasies.

        The duck curve created by the California System Operator shows about 14,000 mw of flexible generation capability will be required by the year 2020.


        This flexible backup means double investment. But in addition to that, there are operational difficulties that make this flex power more costly than normal base load power. “Most generators attempt to resist being frequently ramped up or down due to negative impacts on their equipment,” as Chris Marshall notes.

        The California System Operator is currently putting the final touches on a new tariff for a Flexible Ramping Product that it hopes will bring the cost of flexible power down.


        The bottom line, however, is that when you do as much stupid stuff as California has with its power generation and grid, it comes with a hefty pricetag:


        The greens never like to talk about cost. Imagine that.

      • Mr. Stehle — As I’ve stated a gazillion times, I do not agree with what they are doing in CA, as they are not following engineering economics. (nor do I agree with top-down policy approaches like a Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard).

        I’m balking at incorrect statements you (and Others) are continuing to make at CE regarding (1) engineering economics as applied to an integrated grid, (2) subsidies, especially federal tax policy, (3) regulated and de-regulated electricity markets.

      • Stephen Segrest said:

        I’m balking at incorrect statements you (and Others) are continuing to make at CE regarding (1) engineering economics as applied to an integrated grid, (2) subsidies, especially federal tax policy, (3) regulated and de-regulated electricity markets.

        I do not understand how it is possible to talk about “engineering economics” without talking about costs.

        Fancy that.

      • Mr. Stehle — I talk about costs all the time, but it should be done in a correct context of integrated system engineering economics. For the gazillionth time — it’s about penetration levels.

        But I’m talking to a brick wall.

      • Stephen Segrest,

        So ERCOT does not preside over an “integrated system”?

        CAISO does not preside over an “intergrated system”?

        Take a look at this figure again, and get back to me when you finally get it figured out:


  23. Peter Lang

    Germany has abandoned plans to set out a timetable to exit coal-fired power production and scrapped C02 emissions reduction goals for individual sectors, according to the latest draft of an environment ministry document seen by Reuters on Wednesday. The new version, which was revised following consultation with the economy and energy ministry, has also deleted specific concrete C02 emissions savings targets for the energy, industry, transport and agriculture sectors. –Reuters, 29 June 2016

  24. Peter Lang

    CO2 Emissions Increasing In EU, Despite €1 Trillion In Green Subsidies

    “Eurostat estimates that in 2015 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased by 0.7% in the European Union (EU), compared with the previous year.” –European Commission, 3 May 2016

    Cost Of Germany’s “Energiewende” To Soar To €31 Billion This Year Alone

    “Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by an estimated 10 million tonnes from 2014 to 2015, in a blow to the country’s claims to climate leadership. A 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power within a decade has seen dirty coal maintain a significant share of the energy mix. As a result, progress on emissions has slowed. A decrease in 2011 was followed by increases in 2012 and 2013”. –Megan Darby, Climate Home, 14 Match 2016 http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/03/14/german-co2-emissions-rise-10-million-tonnes-in-2015/

    “According to the Institute of German Business (IW) the cost of Germany’s once highly touted “Energiewende” (transition to green energy) will soar to a whopping €31 billion ($35 billion) in 2016 alone, thus further burdening the already ailing German consumerThe Energiewende is morphing into a central planning folly of the scale matched only by the Venezuelan Chavez communists.” –Pierre Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 3 May 2016 http://notrickszone.com/2016/05/03/unsustainable-folly-cost-of-germanys-energiewende-to-soar-to-e31-billion-in-2016-alone/#sthash.N13pbVjY.dpbs

    • A country does stupid stuff, and now it’s surprised by the sticker shock.

      $438 for every man, woman and child in Germany to pay for this colossal boondoggle. That’s a little bit north of $1300 per year for a family of three.

    • Empire before Gaia, it would seem.

      Moreover, once you move out of cities you’ll find millions of Europeans burning whatever they can get their hands on. They’ve always done it, but soaring power prices make sure they keep doing it.

      Big Green is like the EU itself, a huge serpent eating its tail. This peculiar, unwholesome diet means it has to be given huge injections of debt and subsidy.

      All over soon.

  25. Peter Lang

    “Solar, wind and modern biofuels now
    supply no more than 3% of the world’s
    primary energy, and in 2014 China, which
    has seen years of record-setting additions
    of solar and wind capacities, derived
    less than 2% of its energy from these
    conversions. Wind and solar electricity
    are much more prominent in some EU
    countries, but even Germany, the country
    that forced an accelerated adoption of
    new renewables through its Energiewende,
    produced about 15% of all electricity
    from wind and solar, compared to about
    55% from fossil fuels in 2014. Going
    further, say to 40-50%, will be challenging
    technically and cost-wise, since
    producing higher shares of intermittently
    available electricitzy will require higher
    reserve capacities for night-time demand,
    and for overcast and calm days; better
    high-voltage interconnections; and more
    extensive electricity storage, including for
    entire cities, now home to more than half
    of the world population. ”

    • °°°°°°Peter Lang said:

      ….even Germany, the country that forced an accelerated adoption of new renewables through its Energiewende, produced about 15% of all electricity from wind and solar, compared to about 55% from fossil fuels in 2014. Going further, say to 40-50%, will be challenging technically and cost-wise….


      Didn’t you know that cost word is a profanation, a desacration of sacred principles, and punishable by banishment from the scientists’ club?

      Long live Newton, and death to Bacon!

      °°°°°°Peter Lang said:

      ….producing higher shares of intermittently available electricitzy will require higher reserve capacities for night-time demand,
      and for overcast and calm days; better high-voltage interconnections; and more extensive electricity storage….

      “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

      Do you not believe in magic?

  26. Peter Lang

    “According to the worshippers of the e-world, the late 20th century brought us an unprecedented number of profound inventions. But that is a categorical misunderstanding, as most recent advances have been variations on the microprocessor theme and on the parsing of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    • Perhaps the most inventive time was the 1880s. Have any two sets of primary inventions and epochal discoveries shaped the modern world more than electricity and internal combustion engines?

    • Electricity alone, without microchips, is enough to make a sophisticated and affluent world (we had one in the 1960s). Yet a microchip-governed e-world is utterly dependent on an electricity supply whose fundamental design remains beholden to thermal- and hydropowered-generation systems, both reaching the commercial market in 1882, which still provide more than 80 percent of the world’s electricity. And we aspire to make it available at least 99.9999 percent of the time, so that it can serve as the cornerstone of everything electronic.

    • Add to that the feats of Benz, Maybach, and Daimler, whose success with gasoline-fueled engines inspired Rudolf Diesel to come up with a more efficient alternative just a decade later. By the end of the 19th century we also had conceptual designs of the most efficient of all internal-combustion engines, the gas turbine. And it was in the 1880s that Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of electromagnetic waves (which had been predicted by James Clerk Maxwell decades earlier). Hertz thus paved the way to our wireless world. ”

    Read more (including table showing inventions by year from 1880 to 1889) http://www.vaclavsmil.com/wp-content/uploads/7.1880s.pdf

    • Without abundant and inexpensive energy, there is nothing.

      • Peter Lang

        If not for humans ability to extract energy we’d still be hunter gatherers.

      • Peter Lang,

        Maybe a desire to return to a more original and natural state — highly romanticized a la Rousseau of course — is what informs much of the religion of the greens:

        Suffering from poverty, malnutrition, and syphilis, Gauguin contemplated suicide in 1897. Yet somewhere he found the inspiration and strength to work on this oversized composition, which he clearly viewed as both a personal testament and a new interpretation of the religious and philosophic view of human destiny.


        Using a rough-textured sackcloth, he created a friezelike composition whose flat but monumental forms and exotic color create visual equivalents of the peace and harmony he had admired among the Polynesian natives.

        — DIANE KELDER, The Great Book of French Impressionism

        Ascetism runs through Classical and Western civilizations like a thread, beginning with the ascetic saints of the late and post-Roman worlds, like Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, then to the Fransiscans, and right on down to the moderns like Rousseau.

      • Peter Lang

        Glen Stehle,

        Yes. Agreed.

        Regarding the Greens stated desire to return to nature – or less dramatic, reduce energy consumption – did you see my comment here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/07/03/week-in-review-energy-water-and-food-edition-4/#comment-794398

        Any response? (discussion of that comment could be interesting).

      • Peter Lang said (in his comment on a previous thread):

        …per capita energy consumption is likely to increase indefinitely…

        On the pessimism to optimism scale, I like to think of myself as being somewhere in the middle, which makes me look like a prophet of doom in comparison to someone like AK.

        For instance, I certainly don’t subscribe to the apocalyptacism of the Peak Oilers, but I nevertheless think blue sky stuff like the artcle linked below, with its talk of ” our super-abundance of fossil-fuel resources,” is pure snake oil. This kind of stuff is put out by Little Oil (Little Oil being like Harold Hamm; as opposed to Big Oil — the international oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, etc.):

        Five easy steps to US energy independence

        North America — the United States, Canada and Mexico — could certainly become energy independent, and probably would be very close to being so if not for the crash in oil prices.


        Nevertheless, there are two things to remember about this independence:

        1) It is ephemeral, and probably wouldn’t last for more than a few decades, and

        2) All this oil is non-conventional, which means it is expensive to produce oil. (Even with all the most recent breakthroughs in fracking and drilling technology, and drilling in the sweetest of sweet spots, we’re talking $60 per barrel needed to sustain any sort of significant level of drilling activity.)

        And of course those sweet spots are limited, so what I see is ever-increasingly costly oil, although it may be abundant for some time to come.

        What are the consequences of the end of cheap oil? What does expensive energy bode for the modern project, and specifically for the form of capitalism we currently practice?

        In my way of thinking, modernism and capitalism are in crisis. And the reason they are in crisis is because the supply of cheap energy is depleting, and being replaced by more expensive energy.

        Unlike computers and communications, energy has not undergone any great technological revolution since the 1920s or 30s. We’re relying an energy technology that is a century old.

        And renewable energy, despite all the hype, certainly doesn’t fit the bill of being abundant, much less cheap.

        If we look beyond the hype, I don’t see any realistic energy technology on the drawing board that meets the twin criteria of abundant and cheap.

        But hey, maybe we will win the energy lottery again, the way we did back in the 1930s when we discovered oil in such magnificent quantities. But if you ask me, color me skeptical.

      • Peter Lang,

        Response in moderation, so you might want to check back later to see if it made it out.

  27. For me a sad story — the Mississippi Power (Southern Co.) clean coal project: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/science/kemper-coal-mississippi.html?smid=fb-share

  28. Stepen

    This is a sad story. It doesn’t happen every time, but this kind of scenario has occurred many times when large and technically difficult projects are instigated by a distant and detached bureaucracy and sustained for some time by manipulating funding sources through paperwork management.

    Search for many examples in Soviet Russia. Remember that the folks there were not genetically inferior to those in the US, they were simply trying to make the most of 5 year plans which emphasized project completions for their talking point value rather than for their lifetime utility. Far too many times this has become the norm in the new green era.

    • sorry, Stephen, not Stepen

    • And btw, the “Clean Power Plan” would require Mississippi to reduce its power generation carbon output by 20% despite the facts that this plant may never work as designed, the state already produces 80% of its power with natural gas, and it is in a region where wind power is impractical and solar is surprisingly risky. Socioeconomically it is also an area where economic growth would best be provided by (energy intensive) manufacture for at least one generation.

      These Federal mandates can dump huge risks and unknown costs down to states which do not have natural resources which happen to align them with governmental diktats.