Slides from the Pacific Rim Summit

I am hopping on a plane again today, this time bound for the Orlando Energy Conference. The topic I will present is An Overview of Global Energy Issues. Good thing they asked for something easy and non-controversial. 🙂

This is the last trip I have scheduled for this year, and I am hoping not to have to travel again for a while. Following Orlando, I will spend a few days at the family farm in Oklahoma, where Internet access has yet to make an appearance. Therefore, I will be slow to return e-mails and respond to comments. If all goes according to plan I will be back in Hawaii on November 21st (after having missed my wife’s birthday for the 4th consecutive year).

I quite enjoyed the presentations at the Pacific Rim Summit. I got to talk to a lot of people about what they were doing, and I got to hear the latest from the algae and cellulosic ethanol camps. With the exception of the guys doing algae fermentations, the mood wasn’t great as the challenges of turning cellulose into ethanol and algae into fuel start to manifest themselves. Like I have said before, we have been trying to commercially make ethanol from cellulose for 100 years. There were multiple panels going on simultaneously, though, and I didn’t get to see all of them. Maybe the news in some of the other panels was better.

Then there is Joule Biotechnologies. They gave one of the talks at lunch one day. To say people are skeptical is an understatement. I don’t really know what to make of them. I can’t find enough information yet to give them a really thorough critique, but I am not a big fan of issuing press releases following lab tests. Note that they haven’t yet advanced to pilot scale (that comment came out during the talk – that they were moving toward piloting), and they are already making pretty bold claims about yield, cost, and solving the energy crisis. Personally, I think I would wait to see how these things scale. As one cellulosic ethanol executive commented this past week, “These things don’t scale like you think they should.” That’s right, they don’t. That’s why most technologies don’t make it out of the lab. Always better to make conservative claims and then deliver beyond expectations than to make wild claims and fall short.

Anyway, here are the slides I presented at the Pacific Rim Summit. There is some overlap with what I presented at the First Nations’ Futures Program at Stanford University on September 27th, but there are a number of new slides there.

At some point I will probably write some posts around the theme of these slides, throwing in my notes pages to put the slides in context. To put these slides in some sort of context, here were three of the slides and the notes I had jotted down for them. From the Outline slide:

We have talked a lot about sustainability this week. I must have heard that word a few dozen times the past couple of days. So who in here lives sustainably? We don’t, and our parents didn’t. Some of our grandparents may have, but for the most part they didn’t either. As a society, it has been a very long time since we lived sustainably.

So, why is it important then? I once had a friend say “There really is no need to worry too much about sustainability. Mother Nature will ultimately resolve the problem.” The problem with that statement is that I might not like how Mother Nature solves the problem. Hence, it is important to move toward sustainability voluntarily.

From the Coming to Grips slide:

I am presently reading Big Coal by Jeff Goodell. Jeff opens with a comment that I think captures the nature of the problem we face. When we go to the gas station or turn on a light switch, we don’t have to face the consequences of our dependence – the externalities. The consequences are there nonetheless, as Pat Gruber of Gevo noted yesterday when he said “There’s mercury in our fish, and I don’t like that.”

Our actions have consequences. Who said that? My oldest son can tell you. He hears that all the time, because he doesn’t always connect the fact that when he takes certain actions, sometimes there are bad consequences. The difference between him and the person filling up with gas is he does get to face them immediately.

I also don’t know who said that last one – Deal with reality or reality will deal with you – but again it’s like something I tell my kids. The future is coming whether you plan for it or not. If you plan for it, you tilt the odds in your favor.

From the slide My Paradigm:

We all view the world through a set of lenses. These are my lenses, and they shape my opinions. I know where we are, but I want to know where we are going to be in 3 , 5, 20 years from now. I believe that we will end up paying a lot more for oil than we do now. I often point out to people that consumers in Europe pay the equivalent of $250/bbl for oil. Thus, I believe the technologies will need to compete against a higher future oil price.

We are burning fossil fuels at an unsustainable rate, and we have gotten away with it for a century. We won’t get away with it for another century.

As competition for biomass heats up, low-cost biomass is going to vanish. If your business model is based on tipping fees, then I don’t believe that’s a sustainable model. Jim Imbler from Zeachem commented yesterday that Macdonald’s in San Francisco used to pay to have their waste grease hauled off. A lot of people starting making their own biodiesel, and now not only does MacDonald’s charge for the grease, but the mob is stealing it. That’s my long-term view of biomass, and that theme has been repeated all week. You better lock in your feedstock. You don’t have the same luxury as an oil company to switch to a supplier halfway around the world. The energy density of biomass makes that proposition problematic.

Finally, those “renewable” solutions that are heavily dependent upon fossil fuels won’t compete. More on that later.

Anyway, off to the airport now. Probably no new posts from me for a week.

46 thoughts on “Slides from the Pacific Rim Summit”

  1. Good luck RR and thanks for sharing with us your recent experiences from yet another gathering of energy folks searching for that holy grail.

    I've clipped your final comments herein about the mob stealing french fry grease from MacDonald's as a precurser to biomass supplies.

    Carbon is carbon is carbon as a building block. I think people are gonna be surprised to see coal mines and stranded methane supplying this volume of carbon – even for new biodegradable fuels production – and the garbage, tires and sewer sludge will get added on to these other sources of concentrated carbon. Why plant, fertilize, water and harvest an acre of anything?


  2. I am not so sure we do not have another century of fossil fuel left. The shale natural gas picture is incredible–we are talking about a century's worth in the US, and we just started extracting the stuff. Suppose this picture is duplicated elsewhere? Or suppose extraction techniques improve for oil, gas, heavy-tar oil, or shale oil, somewhere in the next 30 years? Seems likely, no?
    And what about the trillion barrels of oil in the Orinoco trench in Venezuela–will Chavez last forever? Now Brazil says it has 500 billion barrels in the Tupi.
    Continued reliance on oil my preference. I would prefer migrating to nukes and PHEVs. But the market disposes.
    There is also the matter of the price signal. Our fossil fuels may last for another 100 years, as the global use rate will decline, say sliding down to 60 mbd in 20 years, as PHEVs, CNG, biofuels and mostly conservation set in.
    It seems that comfortable cars that get 50 mpg or even unlimited mpg in city driving are here (Nissan today brought one out, and the GM Volt comes next year). We could be on the cusp of radical declines in oil use, and that will prolong the fossil fuel era for decades and maybe even centuries.
    Already, the developed world uses less, not more oil every year. I would say Japan and France, going heavy on the nukes, are set to migrate into a PHEV model rather seamlessly.
    How much oil would France use if their vehicle fleets converted to PHEVs?
    Add it all up, and I think even 100 years from now there will be applications for ICEs, and people who drive them.
    Disaster scenarios rarely take into account the price signal, and the inventiveness of man.

  3. Jeff Goodell is a journalist who wrote a book. This does not make him a coal industry expert.

    So what are the consequences of making electricity with coal. To deal with reality, first you must be able to tell the difference between reality and perception.

    If it is real you can measure it. Journalists deal in perception because their job is selling books and not protecting the environment or producing energy.

    For example we can measure mercury in hair or blood of people and compare it to the threshold of harm. We can measure mercury in fish, We can measure mercury in the environment.

    The problem with measuring small levels of things is the accuracy of instrumentation. The second problem with things like mercury and arsenic ubiquitous in the environment. You have to know the background levels. If you have high levels of arsenic in your drinking water you will get just as sick if it is natural.

    The reason that I am not worried about using coal to make my electricity is that I can not find any significant consequences.

  4. I'm very confused about the US supply of natural gas. On one side of the debate we have people claiming we have a century's worth of it. On the other side we have people saying we are still going to have shortages within the decade. So which is it? I would love to read an unbiased source, but alas there doesn't seem to be one.

  5. ANON

    Everyone has a bias. Especially experts! First I need you tell me what the US will be like in a 100 years.

    So the answer to your question is yes. There is enough NG for 100 years and there will be shortages. A good source of information is EIA.

    The basic problem is finding the perfect crystal ball. A second problem is inconsistent government policy. The experts responsible fro providing energy are conservative and tend to over build. Some government types thinks this is good because they want to protect the consumer from shortages and volatile. Other government types base their policies on books written by self proclaimed experts called journalists.

  6. Anon:
    The new shale gas is terrific. We have gobs of the stuff. It is doomers spreading myths about rapid depletion that you have heard from.
    But RR (our fearless leader) has already stated we won't run out of fossil fuel (meaning NG) anytime soon.
    The news about shale gas is wonderful. And, we are new at this game. Likely, there will be improvements in extraction. There is talk of Exxon Mobil bring the price down further, cutting production costs in half.
    The doomers built up a complex paradigm of doom, and have spent years of their lives painting themselves into a corner. They also don't want to admit they have wasted years of their lives in doomtown, when there is no doom pending.
    They immediately attack lithium batteries, or say there are shortages of lithium (not true). Methanol is poisonous (can be made from NG) they say, when it is not, in any practical sense.
    For doomers, there is never an answer to oil shortages, only doom.
    That dreadful way of looking at life, carries over into all their conversations, whether the topic is food, water, oil, lithium, palm oil, banking etc. Alll doomed.
    They doomers have been on the doomwatch (in this cycle) for seven-eight years now.
    Instead we have global gluts of oil and gas, while lithium batteries are rapidly improving, and Spain recently received more than half of its grid power from windmills.
    There is no doom scenario that makes sense.

  7. “Spain recently received more than half of its grid power from windmills.”

    Two thing Benny, first you get your facts wrong leading to incorrect conclusions. Last time I checked, Spain has increased the use of imported fossil fuels to produce electricity. Everyone of the euro trash insignificant counties that brag about renewable energy are actually sucking more fossil fuel out of pipelines, It is EU countries that have not abandoned nuclear power that has allow reduced use of coal and NG to make electricity.

    Second Spain is not the US. Spain has some very interesting renewable energy projects. However, interesting does not make a reliable grid.

  8. Damn, Benny! Now I have to agree with Kit P. Once we see slightly used Spanish fossil fuel power plants on sale cheap (buyer collects), then we can take their wind power claims seriously. Until then, one unusually windy afternoon in Spain does not mean much.

    You are right, Benny, to mock the granola-crunching, global-warming-alarmist, disaster-at-every-turn doomers. But I fear you are making the opposite mistake. Yes, we have resources & technology & human inventiveness aplenty. But those are simply the cards. How we play them will determine whether the game ends well or not.

    There is a serious chance that politically-correct western governments will get it wrong — with their truly unsustainable fiscal policies and their Ponzi social security schemes and their intentional de-industrialization and their declining populations. But the human race will move forward. China, India, Brazil will see to that.

  9. I'm going to have to call you out on saying China is moving towards a path to sustainability. The fact they they chose to mine 95% of the earth's rare elements & metals, yet their resource base is roughly 30% shows they are doing no such thing. Although, they are attempting to change that now, maybe it will be too late. Also they are folliwing in the US footsteps exactly, but they are coming in when the party is already 1/2 way over.

    The US has shown, when put up to a challenge, they can rise to the occasion. Just look at the years 1942-1945ish when no cars were built in the US and all efforts went to the war. If we could put our efforts this time to something such as getting off oil imports, what would the results be?


  10. KitP –

    How can you see a 100 year supply AND shortages? Are you expecting the demand to rise that fast and sudden that new drilling will not meet it?


  11. Spain recently received more than half of its grid power from windmills.

    That just points out the huge variability and intermittency of wind power. So for 5 hours or so in the wee hours of last Sunday morning when demand was low around 20 GW and wind production was high at around 10 GW, wind provided 53% of Spain's electricity.
    However, on average it is much less than that. In 2008 wind power met 11.5% of Spain's electricity demand.

    So what does that mean? When they double their wind power capacity to average 23% of annual electricity demand, they will hit a few hours a year when wind provides over 100% of demand and they have to find somewhere to dump the excess energy? That makes me suspect that wind could be limited to 20% of average electricity generation, though I'm curious as to Denmark's new plans to increase it above their current 20%. But then Denmark can sell excess electricity to their neighbors with pumped hydro storage.

  12. Can't say I agree with all the opinions expressed in that Register article, but when someone goes way out in one direction like Benny does, it can be helpful to consider the opposing opinions.

  13. Friends-
    I cited Spain only as an example of the incredible adaptability of man. I do not support renewable energy per se. If nukes pencil out better, then go to nukes.
    My point is that we are early in the the game (in terms of fossil fuels disappearing) and already a country such as Spain can generate serious amounts of wind power. In another 20 years? Maybe with some nukes, solar panels and wind, they will use zero fossil fuels to generate electricity. They may be poorly advised to do so, but it is not doom, it is a life, and they would have cleaner air.
    Kinu: In my darker moments I also see China surging ahead, and the USA wallowing around. While China is going through an industrial mobilization, we are on constant military mobilization, we pour more than $100 billion annually into knock-kneed, enfeebled rural economies, and we regulate enterprise to near-death. This does not bode well–for the United States.
    Still, China's command economy may stumble (corruption, ossification), and the amount of venture capital and freedom in the USA is still wonderful.
    But when the R-Party's energy program is heavily subsidized ethanol (another rural subsidy), and the R-Party is supposed to be our beacon of free marketeers, I get worried too.
    Obama seems to neither have an energy policy, nor believe in market incentives. That is what I call a dead-end do-nothing policy.
    Third Party anyone?

  14. OD wrote: "I'm going to have to call you out on saying China is moving towards a path to sustainability."

    OD, I did not say that China was on a path to sustainability in the politically-correct sense.

    Sustainability is just the latest feel-good nothingness. What does it mean? Were the dinosaurs sustainable? Was the Roman Empire sustainable?

    Civilization is like riding a bike. Stop moving forward and you fall down. Unfortunately, that is what the anti-industrial IPCC Neo-Stalinists want to do. They are too dumb to realize that when society collapses, they will be the first to find themselves dangling from lamp-posts.

    There is no choice but to ride the technology tiger — which is what China is doing. As Benny points out, there is every reason to be optimistic — provided we keep moving technology forward.

    With all respect to our host, the planet does not have the Net Primary Productivity for biofuels to be more than a niche product. Real "sustainability" lies in continued technological development.

  15. The new shale gas is terrific. We have gobs of the stuff. The news about shale gas is wonderful.


    Yes, if you disregard some pesky environmental concerns about hydro-fracturing.

    There are some potential hazards to underground aquifers, and it may not be possible in arid areas where water is scarce. Reportedly the hydro-fracturing process takes as much as 4-5,000,000 gallons of water per gas well, some of which comes back as hazardous waste.

    I'm in favor of natural gas from shale using hydro-fracturing, but like all things, there is no free lunch.

    There are some parts of the country where the enviros will be able to delay or stall gas from shale.

  16. With all respect to our host, the planet does not have the Net Primary Productivity for biofuels to be more than a niche product.
    You treat Net Primary Production as a given. No need for that. We could potentially increase that. In fact, I'd say at some point we won't have a choice. We're going to have to find ways to feed lots of people in future.

    Whether we can afford to waste virgin biomass on biofuels is a different matter.

    Real "sustainability" lies in continued technological development.
    Amen to that. Technology is the only way to advance. Let's hope the prostiturians stay out of the way long enough…

  17. Then there is Joule Biotechnologies. They gave one of the talks at lunch one day. To say people are skeptical is an understatement. I don't really know what to make of them.
    Darn it, RR! Don't you know that they use advanced genome engineering, i.e. the black magic of our age? Didn't you read that their system is maximizing productivity and photon yields?How dare you question these guys? Don't you believe in science?

    I'd hate to be the salesman who depends on you for a living;-).

  18. Wendell-
    There are problems with every form of energy–windmills kill birds, solar doesn't work at night, shale gas uses water. Nukes makes nuke waste, etc.
    My point is that we can generate plenty of energy, even with one hand tied behind our back.
    The extra-good news is that it seems we will be able to generate plenty of energy from clean sources such as nukes, wind and solar, and pretty clean, such as NG.
    The advances in lithium batteries are amazing–and if such advances can be commercialized, it is curtains for OPEC.
    Notably, it will be curtains for OPEC, even as thug states effectively prevent oil development in much of the world, such as Mexico, Venezuela, Angola, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, even Russia.
    Man is so inventive, it doesn't matter.

    Meanwhile, China recently said they will up production from a single field in Iraq to 3 mbd from 1 mbd.

    Maybe RR is right–we won't be using fossil fuels in 100 years. As we will be past that age, using better, cheaper and cleaner fuels.

  19. "the planet does not have the Net Primary Productivity for biofuels to be more than a niche product."

    Biofuels might come from sources other than plant material some day Kinuachdrach. Microbial fuel cells aren't so far off. Los Alamos claims electrochemical production of fuel from CO2 is viable today.

    "There is no choice but to ride the technology tiger"

    Exactly. But,China isn't making these advances. The US is.

  20. Seems Yahoo and some other big companies have caught wind of the IEA whistlerblower and now want answers. This could get interesting fast, unless the gov hits the snooze button again.


  21. Sorry the weather in the midWest isn't favorable for the visit, but hope it otherwise goes well. I did give a coal miner's view of Big Coal and Barbara Freese's book on Coal on The Oil Drum though I later went away and did a bit more digging to look at coal reserves (which I also wrote about) and I think, that for coal, anticipation of its imminent demise are somewhat overstated.

  22. “Maybe with some nukes”

    Well Benny, how much of Spain's electricity comes from nukes?

    I happen to agree with you that producing an adequate supply of is not difficult. I think we should be putting up wind farms as fast we can. And the US is.

    However Spain is an example of a country that wants to reduce fossil use while rejecting nuclear power by closing its nuke plants.

    “I cited Spain only as an example of the incredible adaptability of man.”

    That was a joke right? Spain is stuck in a space time continuum. Like the Amish, but on a country level. The Spanish Empire is the world's icon for pillage while the Amish demonstrate sustainability.

  23. Kit P-

    Actually, I pro-nukes, and pro mini-nukes. I think wind farms and solar panel farms have huge footprints, and mar the visual landscape. I am a greenie-weenie, and I don't understand the obsession with wind farms and solar power plants.
    The price signal is king, but there are external costs not captured by the price signal.
    National defense and pollution are two such costs.
    Imported oil is an obvious Achilles heel, and fossil fuels pollute.
    Therefore, I like nuking up and going to PHEVs. CNGs are okay.
    With energy independence, we would be a richer nation, and also more secure, and could think about altering the permanent military mobilization now taken for granted (but which our founding fathers would detest, and also President Eisenhower).
    I cited Spain only as an example of what people can do. It may not be their best choice. But getting power from wind is not doom. They are early into their wind program, and I imagine they can get a lot more power from wind. Then they can convert their fleets to CNG and PHEVs over time.
    This is not doom. In fact, I would argue Spain has a cleaner and more-prosperous future ahead, even if they follow an imperfect course. All the European nations will ne relatively nicer and cleaner more-prosperous nations in 20 years–even if they do not follow the most perfect courses.
    France is nuking up
    Their big problems are demographic, not energy. Man, are we lucky our poor neighbors are Catholics.

  24. OT, BTW, we have double the natural gas we thought, globally. Oh, that.
    Pending disaster scanerios are just getting harder, and harder, and harder to make….

    "While the peak oil debate will surely rage on for years to come, perhaps the more important finding in the IEA report was completely ignored. In the executive summary, the IEA concludes that “The long-term global recoverable gas resource base is estimated at more than 850 tcm (850 trillion cubic meters.” That translates to just over 30,000 trillion cubic feet of gas. That’s more than double the 2008 estimate put forward by the IEA, when it said that “Ultimately recoverable remaining resources of conventional natural gas, including remaining proven reserves, reserves growth and undiscovered resources, could amount to well over 400 tcm.”"

    Predicting doom when gas reserves double—oh well, I leave that to the doomsters.

  25. BTW, OT, but now it appears we can extract tar oil a lot ewasier…you know how much heavy oil Canada has? Think Saudi Arabia…

    A recent report from Advanced Clean Technologies may actually alter the overall economics of tar sands oil production, in particular throughout Canada and Utah.

    "For many years the principals of Winning Strategies have invested in Canadian oil sand trusts such as Suncor, Harvest Energy Trust, which was recently sold to Korea National Oil Corporation, Pengrowth Energy Trust and San Juan Basin Royalty Trust, among others. It is our experience that one of the largest obstacles to industry economics is the high cost of tar sands production and the low percentage rates of extraction. IF ACTH can actually produce 99% oil extraction rates as reported last week, while lowering the energy consumption needed for production and minimizing environmental damage, this is a game changer for the industry."

    Russell Kidder, President of Advanced Clean Technologies, Inc., stated last week, "Our tests, which utilized our patented, non-hazardous chemical reagents in an ambient temperature environment, were remarkable in that they showed our ability to successfully extract and separate over 99% of the oil residue present in both the Alberta and Utah oil sands samples. We believe that our unique technology provides an extraction rate that is significantly higher than the traditional methods, while at the same time being much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly."

    Doomers need a new doom cult to follow. The energy business is too inevntive to stand still for long.

  26. “In fact, I would argue Spain has a cleaner and more-prosperous future ahead”

    Benny it would be hard for Spain to be less prosperous unless you live in a country colonized by the Spanish Empire. There was a time when Christians, Jews, Muslims lived together in prosperity and enlightenment free religious persecution. Then Catholic Spain drove the Moors out and an era of repression, persecution, and torture in the name of religion. Have you heard of the Inquisition Benny.

    My point is not that every society has a dark side but that a few wind turbines is not much of an accomplishment.

  27. Clee, you provided the percentage not the amount. What you will find in countries with polices like Spain, while the percentage of wind increases, the percentage and amount of natural gas increases faster due to load growth. Since no new nukes have been built, market share decreasesbut the amount of electricity from nukes increases as a result of perforce increases.

    From Clee link,

    “Cofrentes was uprated 2% in 1988, another 2.2% in 1998, 5.6% in 2002 and 1.9% in 2003, taking it to 112% of original capacity. Tentative plans will take it to 120% later in the decade.”

    And a picture:

  28. "The reason that I am not worried about using coal to make my electricity is that I can not find any significant consequences."

    You obviously don't live downstream from a coal mine. You might find that your polluted water and constant flooding of your land with black water might be a significant consequence.

  29. "BTW, OT, but now it appears we can extract tar oil a lot easier"

    Technology marches forward. But this is one of those areas where paradigms have to march forward too.

    At present, we see tar sands as a source of energy. But they are not a good net source of energy, since so much energy has to be put into extracting the oil — something like the equivalent of 1 barrel out of every 2 extracted.

    The new paradigm should be to look at tar sands as a mineral resource, something akin to copper ore. We put in energy from a nuclear power plant, and "mine" liquid hydrocarbon fuels from the tar sand.

    Liquid hydrocarbons are the best fuel ever found for mobile power sources. There is no shortage of nuclear fuels, once we start to do the needful. And the CO2 from burning the liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the tar sands will provide an additional benefit by increasing the planet's Net Primary Productivity, meaning more food for a hungry world — the alleged harmful effects of additional CO2 being a steaming pile of unscientific cobblers, as the evidence increasingly demonstrates.

    What's not to like?

  30. …we have double the natural gas we thought, globally.


    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but NG also offers the advantage that nature constantly produces more, and in relatively short order.

    The earth is always producing new oil too, but that is a process that takes millions of years to finish. But NG, not so long.

    In the city where I live, there is a city dump from the 1950's that has been capped. That dump provides a constant stream of methane our city is able to capture and burn.

  31. Wendell-
    It is true that dumps can be drilled for methane.
    I do not know if NG occurs naturally so quickly. But it seems we have incredibly bountiful supplies of NG thanks to some smart guys who figured out who to drill shale for NG.
    Those guys deserve the Nobel Prize, and I am not joking.

    Kinu raises an often ignored point: Higher CO2 levels in fact boost crop output.

  32. "The new paradigm should be to look at tar sands as a mineral resource, something akin to copper ore. We put in energy from a nuclear power plant, and "mine" liquid hydrocarbon fuels from the tar sand.

    You can recycle copper minerals. You can not recycle hydrocarbon fuels.

  33. You can recycle copper minerals. You can not recycle hydrocarbon fuels.

    Actually, you can. It's just that it takes millions of years and you can't do it in the terms of a human lifespan.

  34. Benny: Please go and move next to the closest Nuke Plant. And I'll find you waving your arms trying to breeze-in more CO2 to your vegetable garden. Perhaps a few rads on it will help it grow bigger and faster too.

    Please stop with your opinions. We've heard enough. Thank you.

    Alex Rodriguez

  35. Alex

    I have lived near coal and nuke plants. Much nicer than living in a city like Albuquerque (any big city for that matter). Since Albuquerque is at a fairly high elevation, citizens there get more radiation than the average nuclear worker.

    Since 'a few rads' is several orders of magnitude above 10CFR20 limits maybe Alex could support his claims.

    Benny has some excellent opinions although I would often draw different conclusion.

  36. Kit still ignoring the comment

    You obviously don't live downstream from a coal mine. You might find that your polluted water and constant flooding of your land with black water might be a significant consequence.

  37. It is true that dumps can be drilled for methane.
    I do not know if NG occurs naturally so quickly.


    Besides dumps, we have another prolific generator of methane that goes virtually untapped — cows. And they can convert biomass to methane fairly quickly.

    I don't know if it's true, but I heard not long ago that two cows produce enough methane to completely power one standard suburban-type house.

    Of course the problem is capturing the methane.

  38. Please go and move next to the closest Nuke Plant.

    Where I live we have both a nuclear reactor and ethanol stills. Given the choice, I'd rather live across the road from the nuke than across the road from one of the ethanol stills.

  39. ANON

    Disregarding is a better description than ignoring. If you post a name and specific examples I would be more likely to respond. I have lived in coal mining areas. It was a choice to live in a cleaner environment than when I was forced to live in a large city because that was where my ship was stationed. I was a little surprised by the traffic jam on the first day of trout season. Clean and water is what I observed.

    Ignorant environmentalists never give credit when an industry cleans up its act. Thirty years ago I was anti-coal. Now I am not.


    Dairy farm manure can be treated using anaerobic digesters. Look for the AgStar program over at the EPA. I once calculated that collecting all the manure from all the dairy cows in the US would replace the largest coal plant.

    I would have no problem living near a dairy farm if the manure was properly handled.

  40. Dairy farm manure can be treated using anaerobic digesters.


    Yes, it can, and several farmers in our area have invested in them.

    However, I was talking about the methane that cows produce and that just floats up into atmosphere. That is a source of natural gas (methane) we are ignoring. We need to get the same people who came up with hydro-fracturing shale to figure out how to capture that methane as it escapes from both ends of cows.

    As I said to Benny, supposedly two dairy cows can produce enough methane to power completely an average-size house. (I need to find a source for that.) Capturing that gas would help with two problems: 1. Provide another source of NG. and 2. Keep that methane out of the atmosphere where it is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2.

  41. Wendell you old fart. What do mean by ‘we’?

    There is a group of people obsessed with energy who can not figure out why engineers will not do stupid dangerous things just because they think it is a good idea. Milking cows is a good idea because it a practical source of food for children.

    The front of the cow is for putting food in. The back of the cow is for dumping waste out. If you are concerned enough about the consequences AGW to get close enough to interfere with the either the front and back end to recover a small amount of energy, I will standby to recover your body when the cow does not being interfered with.

  42. …to recover a small amount of energy

    But if two dairy cows can provide enough methane to supply one standard house with all its energy needs, that's hardly small.

    The roughly 1.5 billion cattle* in the world could supply ~750,000,000 homes with their energy needs.

    Course, as you so well point out, there's always that problem of how to collect it. 😉

    * AKA, walking natural gas generators.

  43. Hey Robert: My wife and I just met you on the train. Please keep up your fine work – now that we know how to contact you. Details to come later…Roger + Trish

  44. Hi Robert: My wife and I met you on the train yesterday. What you had to say was both fascinating and deeply peaks my interest! Thank you for the work you are doing.
    Roger + Trish

    Comments to come later…

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