Diogenes searching for honest energy policies

Renewable energy is defective solution in search of a problem, money and power

Guest essay by Paul Driessen

Statue of Diogenes at Sinop, Turkey.

The Greek philosopher Diogenes reportedly carried an oil lamp during the daytime, the better to help him find an honest man. People everywhere should join Congress and the Trump Administration in search of honest energy and climate policies – as too many existing policies were devised by special interests seeking money and power, and often using imaginary problems to justify their quest.

The health and environmental impacts from fossil fuels are well documented, though often exaggerated or even fabricated by activists, politicians, bureaucrats and companies with lofty agendas: securing climate research grants, and mandates and subsidies for renewable energy projects to replace fossil fuels; reducing economic growth and living standards in industrialized nations; and redistributing the world’s wealth, fundamentally transforming the global economy, and telling impoverished countries what kinds of energy and what level of economic development they will be permitted to have.

More often than not, proponents justify these agendas by insisting we must prevent dangerous manmade global warming and climate chaos, prevent unsustainable resource consumption, and safeguard people against purported technological risks. My multiple articles on the catechism of climate cataclysmsustainability realities, absurdities and duplicities … and selective application of precautionary pabulum address the conceptual fallacies of these interchangeable, agenda-driving mantras.

All three are routinely defined, twisted, used and abused to block technologies that activists despise, and promote technologies and policies that advance their agendas and fill their coffers.

But beyond their glaring, often insurmountable conceptual problems are the practical issues. With what, exactly, will these agitators replace fossil fuels? Applying the same health and environmental standards they use against oil, natural gas and coal – just how clean, green, Earth-friendly, sustainable, climate-stabilizing, healthy, and human rights/social justice-oriented are their renewable energy alternatives?

If their alternatives are so wondrous, why do they still need permanent mandates, renewable portfolio standards, investment tax credits, production tax credits, feed-in tariffs, myriad other subsidies, exemptions from endangered species and other regulations, and laws requiring that utility companies buy their electricity whenever it is produced (even if it is not needed)? Why must they build and run fossil fuel “backup” power plants for the 50-85% of the time that wind and solar are not producing?

The following brief examination will hopefully guide more rigorous analyses of the impacts of these “technologies of the future” – aka wind, solar and biomass technologies that served mankind rather poorly for countless generations, until the fossil/nuclear era began, and now are supposed to serve us once again.

Probably the biggest single problem with any supposedly renewable, sustainable alternative is its horrendously low energy density: the amount of energy produced per acre. We can get far more electricity or fuel from a few dozen, hundred or thousand acres of oil, gas or coal production operations than we can from millions or tens of millions of acres of renewable energy projects.

Moreover, fossil fuel operations can often be conducted in the middle of farm fields or wildlife habitats – or the land can be reclaimed and returned to those uses once the energy has been extracted. Offshore oil and gas platforms actually create thriving habitats for marine life. Most renewable energy operations displace food crops or destroy wildlife habitats – and must do so in perpetuity.

And so we have corn as high as an elephant’s eye, across an area the size of Iowa (36 million acres) to produce ethanol that replaces 10% of US gasoline but also requires vast quantities of water, fertilizer, fuel and pesticides to grow the corn and turn it into fuel – instead of feeding hungry people.

We find bright yellow canola fields across more millions of acres in Montana, Saskatchewan, Germany and elsewhere, to produce biodiesel – and still more acreage devoted to switchgrass for ethanol and algae ponds for “advanced biofuels.” In Brazil, it’s millions of acres of sugarcane for ethanol, and millions more for other biofuels from palm oil, from areas that once were rainforests, “the Earth’s lungs,” as environmentalist groups like to say. Once teeming with wildlife, they are now monoculture energy plantations – so that we don’t have to desecrate Mother Earth by drilling holes in the ground to produce oil and natural gas: nature’s own biofuels, created over millions of years and stored for mankind’s benefit.

Of course, when these expensive, environment-intensive alternatives are burned, they send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as fossil fuels do – on top of the CO2 that was burned by fuels and released from soils and clear-cut trees to produce the “climate-friendly renewable” energy.

Meanwhile, American and Canadian companies are cutting down millions of acres of forest habitats, and turning millions of trees into wood pellets that they truck to coastal ports and transport on oil-fueled cargo ships to England – to be hauled by truck and burned in place of coal to generate electricity. The pellets cost more than coal (which Britain still has in abundance), so utility companies receive huge taxpayer subsidies to make up the difference. One power plant received £450 million ($553 million) in 2015.

The financially and environmentally unsustainable scheme is justified on the ground that trees are renewable; so the scam helps Britain meet its climate change and renewable fuel obligations under various laws and treaties. Even though the trees-to-pellets-to-power process emits more carbon dioxide and pollution than coal-based power generation, the “wood fool” arrangement is considered to be “carbon neutral,” because growing replacement trees over the next century or two will absorb CO2.

If this sounds freaking dishonest and insane, it’s because it is freaking dishonest and insane. Diogenes must be turning summersaults in his grave. But there’s more.

On top of all this biofuel lunacy, we also have tens of thousands of wind turbines towering above fields, lakes, oceans and homes – butchering millions of birds and bats, and impairing the health of thousands of humans whose wellbeing is sacrificed to Big Wind profits. We’ve also got millions of solar panels sprawling across countless acres of desert and grassland habitats, to produce well under 1% of the world’s electricity. Their expensive, intermittent power reaches distant urban areas via thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. They all require greenhouse gas-emitting backup power plants.

Those turbines, panels, transmission lines and backups require millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete, rare earth and other exotic metals, fiberglass and other materials – much of it produced under nonexistent health and environmental laws in faraway countries, where injury, illness, child labor and death run rampant … and are ignored by local, national and United Nations authorities and human rights activists.

Removing all these worn-out turbines and solar panels will cost billions of dollars that state and federal governments don’t have, and developers have rarely had to cover with bonds.

Finally, the energy produced from all these “planet-saving” enterprises is far more costly than what could be produced using fossil fuels. Poor families are hit hardest, as they must spend a much larger portion of their incomes on energy than middle class and wealthy families. Businesses, factories, hospitals and schools also face rising energy costs, and must lay off workers, reduce services or close their doors.

The impacts ricochet throughout communities and nations, adversely affecting living standards, nutrition, health and life spans. We are reminded once again: Corporate fraud affects a limited number of customers; government and activist fraud affects every taxpayer, citizen and consumer.

The essence of all these renewable fuel programs is embodied in the notion that we must capture methane from cow dung, to safeguard Earth’s climate from this “potent greenhouse gas.” The operable term is BS.

The US Congress and Trump Administration could become world leaders in returning honesty and sanity to energy, climate, economic and environmental discussions and policies. Let’s hope they do.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

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Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 2:03 pm

There is an element in the environmental movement that opposes anything that will actually work. Remember Paul Ehrlich’s comment that having cheap and abundant energy would be like giving an idiot child a machine gun. The really hard-core greens want scarcity at a high price.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 2:48 pm

Is that all that the “really hard-core greens” want ?
Would that fulfill them ?
I think not.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 9:11 pm

The CO2 horsesh*t has to stop.

Santa Baby
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 9:39 pm

Marxist do not accept the Western World culture, economy or legal rights. So in that light this makes sense? “Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.” — John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama. Published in Science 9 February 2001”

Robert from oz
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 10:16 pm

Want an honest policy , Elon Muskrat has just said he will supply the whole of SA with battery back up within 100 days of signing a contract or its free .

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Robert from oz
March 10, 2017 8:19 am

Let’s put some numbers on that. Optimistically, Elon could provide battery backup at $100 USD/KWH. A single large power plant generates about 1000 MW, or 1,000,000 KW. To back up a single power plant for 24 hours would need 24,000,000 KWH of batteries at $100/KWH, or $2,400,000,000 USD. Then add the price of inverters and it comes to about enough to build a new 1000 MW power plant that would run 24/7 instead of just 24 hours.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2017 11:53 pm

There is also the issue Tom that many sceptics oppose any alternative to fossil fuels regardless of whether it is a good idea or not. This opposition is usually followed by by accusations of being a Stalinist or radical communist. There are fools on both sides, that what makes the debate so difficult.

feed berple
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 5:34 am

A good idea pays for itself. It doesn’t show up at tax time with its hand out.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 7:01 am

The Stalinists are and were not greens, tending to push industrial development. It is the kitsch communists who were seeking a cause after 1989 that got attached to the green movement.
BTW, the Erhrlich quote was from a screed backing the Abalone Alliance, an anti-nuclear group. The self-styled elite want the peons to die or freeze in the dark (or die of freezing in the dark).

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 7:27 am

It’s not that we oppose them, that’s your lie. It’s that we don’t want to be forced to pay for them.
If they can survive without subsidies or mandates, go ahead.
The problem is that none of the so called renewables are able to compete on their own, and that’s what we complain about.
As to accusations of Stalinist or communist, we base that on your other comments.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 10:39 am

Gareth (or is it Griff) sceptics don’t oppose anything but lies, coercion, represssion, and manipulation. Sceptics are sceptics because CAGW and renewable energy involves all of the above. Stop making irrational claims that wind a solar will save the planet, or even provide affordable power, or even operate CO2 neutrally, or find a renewable that does these things, and sceptics will not oppose it. Perform real science, as opposed to consensus management and self aggrandizement, on the climate and sceptics will (and have) support it. Just stop lying.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 11:27 am

I couldn’t care less whether their energy sources are carbon neutral or not. I just don’t want to be forced to help pay for it.

Bryan A
Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 10:51 pm

I for one certainly do not oppose alternatives to fossil fuel so long as it costs the about same without government subsidies. Viable CO2 free alternatives would thereby include both Hydroelectric and Nuclear. Fusion, if it ever comes to pass, and Thorium if it can be proven, would also become viable CO2 free alternatives.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 10, 2017 7:52 am

What do ‘deep green‘ environmentalists want. Solitaire Townsend did an experiment:

I was making a speech to nearly 200 really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure with my little magic wand that we do not go above two degrees of global warming. However, by waving my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger, the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over the place but there will be no climate change. And I asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised their hands.

— Solitaire Townsend Co-founder and Chief Executive of Futerra Sustainability Communications, Broadcast as ‘Analysis’, BBC Radio 4, 25 Jan 2010, 8:30pm: Podcast | Transcript

Of course knowing what deep greens what (nihilism?) is not quite the same as knowing what climate alarmists want. Alarmists are the geek-wave of the green movement. Many of them don’t even recognise themselves as ‘green’.

Santa Baby
Reply to  mark4asp
March 11, 2017 1:09 am
The Badger
March 9, 2017 2:15 pm

Nice to see a consideration of the removal (decommissioning) costs of worn out wind turbines and defunct solar panels. Obviously this is quite a way into the future, solar panels have an estimated 25y life, but perhaps we will see the RHS of the bath-tub curve rather sooner with the domestic solar panel inverters. These have been designed “down to a price” and I predict significant failures will start to show after 5-7 y use (well out of guarantee). How many householders are going to get them repaired/replaced ?

With regard to wind turbines the decommissioning cost is going to be quite huge for these things. Are we going to dynamite them and used gas cutting torches in the fields ? Never mind, at least it might be a bit less than the UK’s current £2 Billion per annum Nuclear clean up cost. BTW that project has a 120y lifetime (from now!).

Reply to  The Badger
March 10, 2017 4:52 am

Before you can build a windfarm in the UK you have to provide the decommissioning plan and provide for the costs of that plan

for example:

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 5:14 am

And when the economy-crippling cost of wind power is finally realised, subsidies are pulled and the operators go bust – who then pays for decommissioning?

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 9:13 am

That’s funny, Grief. Providing a decommissioning plan doesn’t “do” anything. How much you wanna bet that these boon-dongles will simply stand, rust away & fall apart for decades, and the land around them rendered useless? There are already examples.

Rhoda R
Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 9:46 am

I’d be more impressed if there was a decommissioning bond held by a third party.

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 11:18 am

Many years ago, I reviewed a contract to supply nuclear fuel to an electric company. Management demanded a “hold harmless” clause be inserted. I did so, but commented that inthe event of a meltdown the company would have no viable means to pay up,

feed berple
Reply to  The Badger
March 10, 2017 5:38 am

Solar panels last a long time so long as you don’t put them outside.

Reply to  feed berple
March 10, 2017 7:26 am

Right, the green jobs are the solar panel cleaners and infrastructures electricians who spend all their time tracking down wire breaks, switch failures, and cleaning panels. Vey high tech and 24/7, given the number of panels.

The same is true for wind turbines but the job is a lot more demanding, being mostly inside or on top of the turbine. As of several years ago the US had over 15,000 defunct wind turbines. Recent numbers are not available. The Netherlands is up to it’s chin in defunct wind turbine parts that are no recyclable and pretty much just buried ad nauseum.

Kurt in Switzerland
March 9, 2017 2:20 pm

Should be required reading for any citizens with the chance to vote on the wisdom of public policy to fund so-called “CleanTech” for coming decades.

We have a referendum on the subject in two months.

G. Karst
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 9, 2017 5:25 pm

Switzerland – the ONLY full democracy in the world. You are so fortunate to have a say in public policy. If only the rest of the “democracies” would wake up and demand a voice. Electing our leaders without any say in policy, is only half democratic. GK

Tom O
Reply to  G. Karst
March 10, 2017 6:31 am

By participating in active democratic process, you are asking people to give up their quality texting time, their facebook time, their twitter time, their TV saturation time – you may even be asking them to cross the street to vote! Be serious! You can’t expect THAT much sacrifice!

Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 10, 2017 1:31 am

Do something Kurt. Have it translated into German, French and Italian. Submit it to newspapers, blog it, Facebook it etc. I’m sure Driessen would give you permission if asked.

Bruce Cobb
March 9, 2017 2:20 pm

Really. For shame. You can’t put a price on “saving the planet”.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 9, 2017 2:30 pm

The mainly liberal Eco-Terrorists are attempting to destroy the “Middle Class” to create their One World Government Utopia, leaving only two classes. Rich liberal upper class elites and their lower class working class poor. IMHO…

Reply to  Butch
March 9, 2017 11:24 pm

I can hear you Butch. Creating that gap between the haves and have nots is bang on track in Merkel’s Germany. I lifted this from another site today.
We in Australia pay a service charge of about a $1.30 Aus.a day and about 24.4 cents a kilowatt-hour and are rapidly heading down the same toilet.

“The DPA German press agency reported on the rapidly spreading energy poverty now engulfing the country. The main driver is Germany’s skyrocketing electricity prices – primarily due to the legally mandatory feeding-in of wind and solar power. Currently regular household consumers are paying nearly 30 cents a kilowatt-hour – almost three times the rate paid in the USA. Many households are no longer able to afford electricity and are seeing themselves catapulted back to the 19th century. According to t-online.de, “More than 330,000 households in Germany have seen their electricity cut off over the past year alone.” The German site writes that those hit the hardest are households on welfare, i.e. society’s poorest and most vulnerable.  German politician Eva Bulling-Schröter of the Left Party has called it “a silent catastrophe“. –P Gosselin, NoTricks Zone, 3 March 2017”

Reply to  Butch
March 10, 2017 4:55 am

Germans use a lot less electricity than (for exxample) the US. Very many of them also have their own solar panels generating power and/or shares in local renewable projects including windfarms. That 330,000 households figure is an estimate… there are no national stats and you will see other higher figures quoted too (Lomborg made up a set of figures he quoted). and as a percentage of German households, if true, how would that compare to the USA ???

Reply to  Butch
March 10, 2017 7:30 am

Make electricity too expensive to afford, and people use less of it.
Who’da thunk it.

Reply to  Butch
March 10, 2017 10:45 am

Ah Griffy, there you are! Real grammar in this post you’re stepping it up! Excuses for failed policy: where’s your liberal empathy Griffy boy? Don’t you care about all those poor Germans living in the dark?

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 9, 2017 2:36 pm

Let me try. How about 7.5 billion people?

richard verney
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 10, 2017 3:54 am

The planet does not need saving. It will do just fine.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
March 10, 2017 10:41 am


March 9, 2017 2:25 pm

“Moreover, fossil fuel operations can often be conducted in the middle of farm fields or wildlife habitats – or the land can be reclaimed and returned to those uses once the energy has been extracted.”

I can confirm this. I live in a rural area, surrounded by farm fields, and one time a coal mining company brought in bulldozers and started strip mining coal in a field right across the creek from me (not my land). That was the first notification I had that they were going to start strip mining, and the first indication that coal was actually under that ground close enough to strip mine. 🙂 I suppose there is still lots of it left, if I had to go into survival mode. Reminds me of the guy who filled his backyard, inground swimming pool full of coal, for use in emergencies, and then covered it over with soil, so you wouldn’t even know it was there. But I digress.

Well, naturally I was a little unnerved about the prospect of a coal strip mine practically in my backyard, but things turned out just fine. For whatever reason, the coal company quit mining about 18 months after they started, and they cleaned everything up and left me in peace.

The point of this post is the cleanup was unbelievably good. They did such a good job that you could walk on that land today and you would never know a piece of heavy equipment had ever been there.

The environmental cleanup of old wells and mining operations has really made a lot of good progress in recent years. I didn’t realize just how much until it was demonstrated right in front of my eyes.

March 9, 2017 2:28 pm

Like it or not over the next 100 years the world is going to have to move to renewable energy sources. It has
nothing to go with global warming but is simply due to the finite nature of our fossil fuel reserves. And all of
the problems listed above need to be addressed. So we can either start thinking about how to solve them now
while we have abundant energy reserves and time on our hands or stick our head in the sand until it too late.

Kurt in Switzerland
Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 2:33 pm


“…over the next 100 years the world is going to have to move to renewable energy sources.”

Not so fast. Don’t forget about coal and about reserves yet to be discovered.
Beyond that, there’s nuclear power plants; Gen. IV will arrive in the coming decade or two.
Perhaps there will be a breakthrough in Deep Geothermal.
But wind, solar, biomass, tidal, … are hopelessly inefficient and unsustainable, ecologically and economically.

Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 9, 2017 4:26 pm

Renewable energy now accounts for 30% of global power generation capacity. That’s incredible!

In Abu Dhabi, Masdar and Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel have tendered an offer to operate 800 megawatts of solar at 2.99 cents a kilowatt hour. Only hydro is cheaper at an average of 0.85 cents per kwh.

Solar has seen exponential growth, doubling every 2 years and has been for the last 20 years. Solar currently supplies about 2% of the world’s energy needs.

If solar growth continues at this rate, we’re only 12 years away (six doublings) from being able to supply 100% of our energy needs with solar. Plus, prices keep dropping.

It is apparent that in the not too distant future, solar and wind will be able to produce as much power as we are willing to take from them. Fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro, etc. will still be better for some of our power needs. How much solar and wind we are able to use will depend on how clever we are at dealing with the related availability, and distribution issues. I’m betting we’ll get pretty good at that.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 10, 2017 4:45 am

@ Greg – March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm

If solar growth continues at this rate, we’re only 12 years away (six doublings) from being able to supply 100% of our energy needs with solar. Plus, prices keep dropping.

And you actually believe what you stated above, ………. RIGHT?

Greg, …… GETTA CLUE, …… to achieve “100% of our energy needs with solar”……. it would take 20 years to get new manufacturers of solar panels “up and running” ………. and 25 years to train a workforce of illegal immigrant “union” electricians capable of installing said solar panels.

Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 10, 2017 7:33 am

Another greenie who takes a few years of data and then simply extends to curve into the future and declares itself to be a genius.

Reply to  Kurt in Switzerland
March 10, 2017 4:04 pm


March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm

“Renewable energy now accounts for 30% of global power generation capacity. ”

I am sure you are right. You are a fine chap.

But solar, although it has the capacity, seems not so good at actual power generation at some times – like at night.
Or when cloudy.
Or near dawn and dusk, for that matter.
Or when the Sun is otherwise low in the sky [winter, when power to keep warm is needed, as you know].
Solar and wind are OK – for remote needs, or, perhaps in the tropics, to run air conditioning. Or, perhaps, for a little help.

Hydro [I know it is not ‘green’, officially, in Governor Moonbeam Brown’s California La-La Land] helps by storing off-peak energy for peak use.
It helps, at the margins, surely.
Only so decent many sites, though.
I recall reading, somewhere, that the UK already uses “90%” of viable hydro sites [some years ago, I think].
I have no idea if that is correct, but very few are now being built.
Is that because all the ‘good’ ones are in use already, or green antipathy translates into refusal of planning permission for renewable energy production/storage?
I have no idea which is correct.

But too much wind in the mix, especially, leads to South Australia – blackouts.

And a bit of CO2 helps the turnips grow.


Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 2:43 pm

Oh, we’ve got plenty of time to keep our heads in the sand. Push to shove and with the will, we could spring up all the nuclear power we need within 3 to 5 years.

Reply to  taz1999
March 9, 2017 5:00 pm

This. If we ever need non-fossil fuel energy, the clear winner is nuclear. We know exactly how to do it, and it’s clean, green, and virtually inexhaustible.

Wind and solar are not “free”, and have horrific environmental impacts via waste products from manufacture of the materials, and disruption of huge swaths of natural habitat. It is insanity on stilts.

stephen duval
Reply to  taz1999
March 10, 2017 12:51 pm


Nuclear can provide all the inhabitants of the world with US energy consumption level for 1000 years. Sodium Fast Reactors are not a research project. GE has been ready to build them since 1998. Current light water reactors are by far the safest method of energy production. SFRs are about 1000 times safer than current reactors.

Radiation safety standards are also much too stringent by a factor of about 1000. Low dose radiation may be beneficial rather than harmful. The Linear No Threshold (LNT) theory of radiation damage is based upon very high radiation doses from nuclear bombs extrapolated linearly back to 0. This takes no account of radiation repair mechanism in the body the repair damage from low dose rates but are overwhelmed at high dose rates. LNT is junk science just as Global Warming is junk science.

With reactors that are 1000x safer and radiation standards that are 1000x weaker, there is no reason to continue the current regulatory scheme. The NRC could be retained for the current light water reactors and a new regulatory model developed for walk away safe reactors. This regulatory scheme would be based upon the FAA model.

A company would be awarded a patch of land at the Idaho Nuclear Laboratory to build their reactor. The reactor would be turned over to the new NRC/FAA regulators for 6 months. They could spend 6 months trying to make it malfunction. If they could not, it would be certified as walk away safe and available for commercial sale. Any utility wishing to purchase such a reactor, manufactured in a plant and transported by rail or barge to the site, would have to obtain a standard construction permit to install the reactor.

The only part of your post that I disagree with is the 3-5 year estimate to implement. 30-50 years is a more reasonable estimate to replace all coal fired and gas fired baseload electricity and all gas fired heating with electricity.

The only people who benefit from Green Energy policies are OPEC. Rather than using our natural gas bonanza to replace coal and fight the CO2 war, we should convert natural gas to methanol and cap the price of oil. This will prevent the periodic recessions associated with OPEC overpricing and also reduce funds available for jihad.

Reply to  taz1999
March 10, 2017 4:19 pm

“It is insanity on stilts.”

Excellent – plus shedloads and shedloads and shedloads and shedloads.

And I may repeat that . . .
Many thanks indeed.


Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 2:52 pm

We’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 years of oil and gas and over 1000 years of coal.
That’s assuming we don’t go in for nuclear big time in the mean time.

Reply to  MarkW
March 9, 2017 2:56 pm

That is not true. At current rates of use there are about 250 years left of coal and about 50 or so of oil. And assuming that consumption goes up exponentially (even at about 3% per year which given an increasing world population that is also getting richer and using more energy is not ridiculous) we only have 60 years of coal left. And similarly there is not enough uranium or thorium reserves to power the world. See
for details.

Reply to  MarkW
March 9, 2017 3:10 pm

MW, true only in the absolute. The issue is not total exhaustion, it is peak annual production (whether supply constrained by technology or demand constrained by rising costs as extraction becomes more difficult). For crude oil for liquid transportation fuels, that is about 2025. Those calculations are pretty tight and robust; conventional oil already peaked about 2008. (conventional precisely defined as API>10, reservoir porosity >5% and permeability >10 millidarcies.) see several essays in ebook Blowing Smoke for details. For natural gas, have not redone earlier calculations affected by shale fracking. My SWAG is god to go for many decades. Coal has been estimated variously by Patzek (UT Austin) Rutledge (CalTech) and Uppsala as ~2050-2060. I think their analyses are solid, but have not done that research myself. Focused on oil because ~70% is consumed as liquid transportation fuels. The energy shoe pinches there first.

Reply to  MarkW
March 9, 2017 3:11 pm

Well, Geronimo, commit suicide now while you still have time.

Projections as to when we will run out of whatever were wrong 50 years ago. No reason to believe current projections are any better. Indeed, we have more now than we did 50 years ago.

Reply to  MarkW
March 9, 2017 3:44 pm

Gamecock, in my view you overlook two problems: the specifics of past projection assumptions like BS Club of Rome), and current realities on the ground. Net net, you are far too optomistic about the biggest, soonest pinching thing, peak crude oil production. Thatnismobscured by the US shale/OPEC battle, until you dig into the geophysics of conventional versus unconventional, decline curves, creaming curves, and such. Do so, start to do so via my ebooks which you can then separately check and critique.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  MarkW
March 9, 2017 5:30 pm

“Germinio March 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

At current rates of use there are about 250 years left of coal…”

At current rates of extraction Australia ALONE has ~500 years of coal in KNOWN RESERVES.

richard verney
Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2017 4:21 am


For crude oil for liquid transportation fuels, that is about 2025.

There is no problem with shortage of oil for liquid transportation fuels in the immediate/foreseeable future. With cheap energy, almost anything is possible.

Within the last 2 weeks I have referred you to the experience with SASOL where South Africa for decades was able to fulfill most of its petrochemical needs, including oil for liquid transportation fuels, from coal. This experience confirms that your pessimism is unfounded. You might like to see the EPA 1980 report on SASOL.

The EPA were noting that by early 1980s, SASOL would have 3 plants up and running producing about 112,000 barrels per day, at a cost of US$17 per barrel. The then OPEC price was circa US$20 per barrel so South Africa was able to obtain its fuel oil needs at a price significantly below OPEC market price. The EPA suggested that due to differences in coal/coalfields, if the US were to employ the same technology it would cost about US$27 per barrel. This cost was above the OPEC market price so it was not, at that time (1980), economically viable for the US to go down the route of extracting oil from coal. Now with shale, it is presently unnecessary to consider the coal to oil route, but as and when liquid fuel reserves run out, oil from coal technology will come to the fore, and given the vast amounts of coal reserves throughout the world there will be no immediate concerns regarding the availability of liquid fuels for transportation.

It was the success of the SASOL project that thwarted the West’s policy of sanctions on South Africa. It is a well proven technology. No doubt with current advances, it will be now be slightly more efficient than it was when South Africa was reliant upon it for most of its oil needs.

Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2017 7:34 am

Geronimo, according to people like you, we should have run out of oil and coal 30 years ago.

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 3:30 pm

“Like it or not over the next 100 years the world is going to have to move to renewable energy sources”

100 years a long way to make predictions. Even fusion might become commodity that far away. Do you find a wind mill more exciting innovation than fusion?

Even among renewables there might spring more compelling alternatives. Google: “Artificial Leaf”

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 3:33 pm

FG, until it doesn’t. And with a global population now ~7.7 billion, the margin for timing error is significantly reduced. We got lucky so far, else history would be very different. Tackled those issues in Gaia’s Limits published early 2012. Five years on, there are a few things I would rewrite–but not too much, and not the general conclusions.

I agree with you that solar and wind are at best premature, and at worst a fools errand.
We need bulk energy storage; the most promising speculative new tech is Fiskar Nanotech; see my Nov 2016 technical guest post at Climate Etc. We need some form of 4gen nuclear fission; see essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke. There is a lot of other stuff that is just wasted R&D. See essays California Dreaming, Hydrogen Hype, and Ice That Burns for some examples.

David Wells
Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 3:35 pm

Without oil we can’t have any manufactured products because you cannot prospect mine refine manufacture and ship stuff without the portability of oil. But whenever I mention this pertinent fact everyone just runs away and hides. No oil no lubricants no mining no nothing zilch. That is the other most patronising belief perpetrated by those who fantasise about green. Prof Brian Cox documentary how to make a star on earth made clear that even if co2 was a threat and wind turbines a solution we couldn’t build them fast enough and even if we could we don’t have enough land mass and most likely would run out of materials and oil before we built enough to make a difference. Then of course with a maximum life of 20 years and all land consumed what exactly would be the Point?

Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 3:43 pm
Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 4:38 pm

Renewable energy now accounts for 30% of global power. Solar is 2%, doubling every 2 years. Do the math.

Yes, there is plenty of oil available. But we can also produce as much vegetable oil as we want. The yield from corn is 18 gallons/acre and it takes about 3 months to grow, not millions of years. Oil palm can produce 635 gallons per acre. Vegetable oils can be used in a lot of places where crude oil is used, and was before WWII.

The world is not ending, we’re actually in a much better position than people think. They just don’t realize it yet.

Reply to  0x01010101
March 9, 2017 4:55 pm

“Renewable energy now accounts for 30% of global power. Solar is 2%, doubling every 2 years.”

Utter rubbish.

Here’s what BP’s Outlook for 2035 has to say:

What will the energy mix look like in 2035, compared with 2013 – in million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe)?



See that little orange bit at the right hand end?

That’s renewables.

Tell you what – YOU DO THE MATH!

Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 4:44 pm

0x, please read essays Salvation by Swamp and Bugs, Roots, Biofuels in ebook Blowing Smoke. You plainly have not run the numbers.

Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 5:00 pm

The math:

2% now
6 years out … 128% at your projected rate.

I can reassure my kids that we have nothing to worry about.

Wait a sec … do the subsidies need to grow at an exponential rate as well? if the subsidies triple every year, as needed to support the solar growth rate, we will need … to tough for me … you do the math.

Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 5:55 pm

“Renewable Energy Now Accounts For 30% Of Global Power Generation Capacity”


Patrick MJD
Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 6:59 pm

“0x01010101 March 9, 2017 at 5:55 pm”

You link to Cleantecnica? That’s as good as SkS and Wikipedia for accurate sources…

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 8:20 pm

“Yes, there is plenty of oil available. But we can also produce as much vegetable oil as we want.”

The very moment you type that in Somalia people are starving to death and the WHO can’t deliver food.

“The yield from corn is 18 gallons/acre and it takes about 3 months to grow, not millions of years. Oil palm can produce 635 gallons per acre. Vegetable oils can be used in a lot of places where crude oil is used,”

While the environmentos talk of “greening the cities” – in their dreams.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  David Wells
March 9, 2017 8:48 pm


Three things. First, your link is talking about electrical power generation, not the total energy consumption. catweazle666’s graphic from BP is talking about the total energy consumption, including transportation fuels. It would be a beautiful world if all we had to worry about was charging our iPhones. But there is minimal penetration of renewable energy in transportation fuels (clearly less than the 10% ethanol content of most US gasoline). And I don’t see the approximately 780kg of coal required to make each metric ton of steel being replaced by wind or sun.

Second. Even your link notes that the 30% is generation capacity; their figure for actual energy generated from renewable sources is 23%, highlighting the intermittency of renewable technologies. And I’m not sure I believe that figure because that amounts to a capacity factor of 77%, which is much higher than I have seen from more independent sources such as the EIA (better than double in fact).

Finally, did you catch the part where it says:

For good or bad, the report also identified what happens when a region or country reduces its renewable energy subsidies. Following the decrease of subsidies in the European Union, the EU’s share of global solar PV installed capacity dropped over the past four years from 75% to 41%, while the share of wind dropped from 41% to 33%.

This strongly suggests that the growth in renewable energy sources is largely if not entirely due to subsidies.

In 2014 the entire world made 53 million metric tons of aluminum, using 690 terrawatt-hours of electricity. 58% of that power (400 terrawatt-hours) was generated with coal. In the same year the entire world generated less than 300 terrawatt-hours from renewable (wind, solar, biofuel, geothermal) sources. This one industry alone can’t function on renewable energy, even if the whole world’s capacity were dedicated to it.

People who blithely claim we achieve 50% or better renewables for our entire energy mix simply do not appreciate the scale of industrial energy use.

Reply to  David Wells
March 10, 2017 12:04 am


Your chart does not really tell us much. We don’t know if this is worldwide production or whether it is the Western world or even just the US. It’s also produced by BP who are a major producer of fossil fuels so may have an interest in minimising renewable energy sources. If you are interested in these things there are lots of more specific charts showing observed data on a daily basis, such as this European site.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
March 10, 2017 6:16 pm

“We don’t know if this is worldwide production or whether it is the Western world or even just the US.”

Perhaps if you were to be sufficiently switched on as to click on the link http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/bp-magazine/conversations/chief-economist-on-energy-outlook.html which you will note contains the word GLOBAL and read the article you might acquire enlightenment.

As to “so may have an interest in minimising renewable energy sources” if you were even a tenth as informed as you pretend to be you would realise that BP have considerable interests in renewable energy – indeed, were one of the pioneers of solar cells – and that there is no competition between fossil fuels and renewables as there is a considerable overlap between the two different industries and the financial interests that are the actual owners of them.

Reply to  David Wells
March 10, 2017 12:29 am

Poor Gareth

the graph tells us all we need to know

Oil will increase by 20%
Gas by nearly 50%
Coal by 19%

So… don’t worry, and don’t fret..

there will be PLENTY of extra CO2 added to the atmosphere

Plant life growth to feed the world is assured for a long time in the future. 🙂

Reply to  David Wells
March 10, 2017 12:40 am

Anyway, I doubt that many countries can afford the subsidies or electricity supply instability for global renewables to ever get anywhere near 8% by 2035.

Even far-left politicians will have woken up to the stupidity of renewables , well before then !!.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  David Wells
March 10, 2017 5:30 am

David Wells – March 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Without oil we can’t have any manufactured products because you cannot prospect mine refine manufacture and ship stuff without the portability of oil. But whenever I mention this pertinent fact everyone just runs away and hides.

No oil no lubricants no mining no nothing zilch.

Yup, they avert their eyes and their mind to all things they do not want to hear.

Like a “love-struck” teenager when they are told that their chosen “lover” is a worthless POS.

The world cannot function without a continuing supply of aluminum and steel ……. simply because there is no acceptable substitute for them.

So, it matters not a twit whether you are extracting (mining) the raw products from deep in the earth …… or recycling steel or aluminum waste, …… it is impossible to supply the needed “finished goods” via use of solar or wing energy.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
March 10, 2017 6:20 pm

“The world cannot function without a continuing supply of aluminum and steel”

Not to mention concrete, which both requires a substantial amount of fossil fuel per ton to manufacture and releases even more as it cures.

R. Shearer
Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 3:58 pm

The US ran out of oil in the 1970’s and 90% of the population died before the year 2000.

Reply to  R. Shearer
March 10, 2017 4:25 pm

R. Shearer,
Yes, I ‘clearly’ remember that.
Then Ronnie Ray-Gun and the Plutonium Blonde [aka Mrs. Thatcher] won the Cold War, without firing a shot.

Counterfactual watermelon imaginings have been around for a generation or more . . . . . . .

[PS, how did the 44th President do? Was he a watermelon – Citrullus?]

Mods – do I need a /Snarc tag????
Hmmm. Some of it is a bit sarky – maybe.

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 4:00 pm

The peak oil theory has been debunked. Instead of a bell shaped ciuve, you have what’s called a logistics curve. The oil supply was supposed to peak in 2007. It didn’t. Enter shale oil and fracking. There will always be oil. It will gradually get more expensive, There will be an incentive to conserve, to improve energy efficiency and (hopefully) other sources of energy will come on line, probably nuclear, but not renewables, their energy density is just too low to cut it.

Reply to  Trebla
March 9, 2017 4:24 pm

Trebla, you are just wrong. Peak conventional oil production was in 2008. Conventional defined as API>10, reservoir porosity >5% and reservoir permeability >10 millidarcies. What saved the situation until now was unconventional oil: Athabasca bitumen sands, Orinoco tar sands, and tight shale,oil produced by horizontal drill/ frack mainly in the US. How far those can carry us further is roughly calculable. So I did in some of the energy essays in ebook Blowing Smoke. Answer is ~2025. My best estimate in 2014 when the book published before the China demand slowdown was 2023.

Reply to  Trebla
March 9, 2017 4:31 pm

As to the actual,curve shape, Hubbert used a fat tailed logistic. Still wrong, as the actual real curve is a skewed tail gamma function. But makes almost no difference to the peak timing. Only matters to the back side scenario. Hubbert was too pessimistic with his logistics curve. But a gamma only prolongs lesser economic pain. See essay Peeking at Peaks in ebook Blowing Smoke. First example, using the North Slope for more than just gamma insights.

Reply to  Trebla
March 10, 2017 12:08 am

I tend to agree, even as a green lefty I don’t think there will be a ‘peak oil’ in the near future. It may get more difficult to extract, but I suspect is not an issue that can be taken seriously.

richard verney
Reply to  Trebla
March 10, 2017 4:29 am


See my comment above on SASOL.

South Africa were, for decades, able to fulfill most of their petrochemical/fuel oil needs from coal. It is a proven technology that thwarted the West’s sanctions which were designed to break South Africa, but did not because of South Africa’s oil from coal technology.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Trebla
March 10, 2017 5:53 am

ristvan – March 9, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Trebla, you are just wrong. Peak conventional oil production was in 2008.

Who the hell cares what the “peak conventional oil production was in 2008”?

Who the hell cares what the “peak conventional oil production was in 1859”….. during the week after Edwin Drake punched his first “hole-in-the-ground”?

Who cares?

Well “DUH”, those who have been “brainwashed” into caring, ……. into having the bejesus scared out of them …….. and those who have a “ve$ted interest” in making sure that the populace remains “brainwashed” and/or “afraid” of their future survival.

That’s who cares.

Reply to  Trebla
March 10, 2017 7:38 am

“Peak conventional oil ”
That’s the dodge most peak oil types use to hide the fact that are completely wrong.

stephen duval
Reply to  Trebla
March 10, 2017 1:21 pm

Your calculations must be GIGO. The Alberta oil sands alone are of the same magnitude as Saudi Arabia. Then there are the Venezuela tar sands, another Saudi Arabia or more. Then there is CO2 injection into old wells. And there is oil fracking. And natural gas fracking worldwide unless the Greens help the Russians, Qatar, and Iran secure a tight OPEC like grip on natural gas supply. And then there is natural gas from methane hydrates.

Natural gas can be easily converted to methanol for use as an excellent clean burning, high octane transportation fuel. It makes much more sense to substitute natural gas for oil to undercut the OPEC cartel rather than for coal in electricity production to reduce CO2.

It doesn’t matter about conventional peak oil occurring in 2008. The point is that as conventional oil dries up or gets too expensive, another source comes into existence.

And within 100 years, 50 years if the unnecessary regulatory constraints are removed, nuclear will have replaced a significant portion of the demand for fossil fuels and with sodium fast reactors we have enough uranium for 1000 years. SFR are about 200x more uranium efficient than light water reactors.

Green energy policy is designed to maintain the OPEC cartel in the face of a very large number of competitive energy sources. Not only is the left allying with the Islamic countries politically, the Greens have been carrying water for OPEC for decades.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Trebla
March 11, 2017 4:54 am

stephen duval – March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

It doesn’t matter about conventional peak oil occurring in 2008. The point is that as conventional oil dries up or gets too expensive, another source comes into existence.

Right on cue, Stephen, …….. as reported today by Fox News, …… to wit:

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) has revealed the largest U.S. onshore oil discovery in 30 years, located in Alaska’s North Slope.

Repsol and joint venture partner Armstrong Energy claim to have found a massive conventional oil play that holds up to 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable light crude.

In November, the U.S. Geological Survey said the Midland Basin, which is part of the oil-rich Permian shale play, is estimated to contain 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas. The new figures would make the Midland Basin about three times bigger than North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Read more @ http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/03/10/massive-oil-find-in-alaska-is-largest-in-30-years.html

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 5:10 pm

“So we can either start thinking about how to solve them now while we have abundant energy reserves and time on our hands or stick our head in the sand until it too late.”

Are those the only two choices?

We are thinking about it now. The problem is that there are a significant number of yahoos that think a solution need to be initiated now, based on a make problem.

Be honest and think about the REAL problems now (as you stated), then admit that doing something just for the sake of doing something is the same as sticking our heads in the sand (or somewhere else).

Leonard Weinstein
Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 5:35 pm

Nuclear is a clear followup (there are numerous failsafe versions available). However, even this is not likely to be needed. Look up Brilliant Light and E-Cat as examples of alternate unlimited sources of low cost and clean energy. Solar is likely a useful small scale source of energy for some cases, but never large scale. Wind is also useful on a few examples (versions have been used in farms for a long time. However, neither solar or wind are practical as large scale solutions, even if the storage cost problem were solved.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 3:02 am

I wonder how much better nuclear, especially thorium, would be with access to all the money currently being spent on wind and solar.

stephen duval
Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 1:58 pm

Sodium Fast Reactors are walk away safe and ready to be built since 1998, GE S-PRISM.

Thorium is a research project. It is not even a high priority research project.

Low dose radiation research, required to lift the radiation safety standards by a factor of 1000x, are the highest priority. Naturally Obama cancelled this research initiated under Bush but not before it became clear that the Linear No Threshold theory of radiation damage is junk science.

Brayton Super Critical CO2 energy conversion is a major priority for both SFR and Molten Salt Reactor.

Pyroprocessing research to recycle spent nuclear fuel will solve the waste problem. This was cancelled by Bill Clinton but has been limping along in a crippled state.

The next level of priority is for hydrogen production. SFR can handle electricity production.

If the Uranium Carbonate cycle can be used to produce hydrogen at 650C then Molten Salt reactors become a priority. The first MSRs are likely to use solid uranium fuel. The next version is likely to use liquid uranium fuel dissolved in the molten salt.

If Uranium Carbonate cycle for hydrogen production at 650C is not possible, then gas reactors (helium) are the most likely candidate for production of hydrogen at 850C.

There may be some reason to use thorium. Thorium is 3-4 times more prevalent but with uranium efficiency increased by a factor of about 200 by SFRs, this does not seem to be a pressing issue. Molten salt reactors have a uranium efficiency improvement of about 6x.

It is claimed that thorium reactors are more proliferation resistant than SFRs because U232 is highly radioactive and contaminates the U233 that could be used in a bomb unlike the Pu239 that is relatively pure in a light water reactor after about 3 months of operation. This argument does not make much sense because there are much cheaper methods of producing 93% pure Pu239 than a commercial light water reactor. I is also much easier to construct a U235 bomb than a Pu239 bomb and U enrichment is much easier than it used to be.

This argument has no validity against a SFR because the spent SFR fuel is much more contaminated than the Thorium fuel and pyroprocess does not separate Pu at any point in the cycle.

The Thorium to U233 cycle also requires 23 days for Protactinium to decay to U233 creating the possibility of neutron capture by the Protactinium. The most likely solution is to separate the Protactinium from the fuel by unknown means.

Sodium fast reactors are an immediate solution to walk away safe reactors that deliver a 200x improvement in Uranium efficiency. They solve the waste problem. They are more proliferation resistant than light water reactors. They are ready to be built. GE currently has a proposal to build one to dispose of the UK’s Plutonium inventory. Everyone else wants billions to get rid of the Pu inventory. GE will do it for free if they are allowed to sell the electricity that they generate.

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 8:46 pm

The first peak coal was in 1910. The first peak oil was in 1922. We’re still waiting to run out of either.

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 9:25 pm

Geronimo, 100 years ago, my Grandfather lived in Boston. After WWI, he told me, the great wonks of the day decided that oil was running out and that the world should get readyfor the absence of oil.
Those great wonks, like you, were wrong.

Reply to  Germinio
March 9, 2017 9:39 pm

the finite nature of our fossil fuel reserves

We were warned the same thing was imminent over 50 years ago. The depleted Iranian field filled up. So did countless others (which tells me they don’t know the complete genesis of oil). Alberta has a trillion or two barrels waiting to be extracted. The US govt forced massive newly discovered fields in the waters NE of Prudhoe Bay closed for strategic national security reasons: better to use up everybody’s oil first; purchasing it would only cost us keystrokes since we are the reserve currency.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  MRW
March 10, 2017 6:16 am

YUP, ……. and the US govt forced massive newly discovered fields in the waters all along the East coast of the US and Florida waters ……. as well as the entire West coast waters from Alaska to California …… closed to any and all oil and gas drilling/exploration ,,,,,,,, as well as tens-of-thousands of acres in Nevada, Utah, etc.

You can erect bird-killing “wind turbines” and “solar panels” bout anywhere ya want to, …..but no punching holes in the ground.

Reply to  Germinio
March 10, 2017 4:07 am

I’m inclined to believe you are correct that a solution will appear, at least for the foreseeable future. Looks like there are battery solutions on the horizon. I suspect electric vehicles will become much more popular, at least in urban areas, over the next 10-20 years.

feed berple
Reply to  Germinio
March 10, 2017 5:51 am

The world will move to something other than fossil fuels. However there is a reason that ships at sea are not wind powered even though this makes more sense than windfarms to supply electricity. Imagine running a business where all the employees randomly take the day off without warning

Reply to  feed berple
March 10, 2017 1:47 pm

Ferd: “Imagine running a business where all the employees randomly take the day off without warning”

Like Int’l Women’s Day? 😉

Reply to  Germinio
March 10, 2017 8:03 am

“The pace of technical advance has been accelerating for decades now. Have faith in human ingenuity.”

You never know what humans are going to come up with.


Yeast cell factories make gas, jet fuel alternatives

March 9 (UPI) — Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are using fatty acid synthase, or FAS, to produce sustainable alternatives to petrol and jet fuel.

The team successfully developed a new method using yeast cell factories to modify the FAS enzyme to create new sustainable chemical alternative products.

“This enzyme normally synthesizes long chain fatty acids, but we have now modified it into synthesizing medium chain fatty acids and methyl ketones — chemicals that are components in currently used transportation fuels,” Zhiwei Zhu, a post-doctoral student at Chalmers, said in a press release. “In other words: We are now able to produce [gasoline] and jet fuel alternatives in yeast cell factories, and this has never been done before.”

end excerpt

Reply to  Germinio
March 10, 2017 10:46 am


March 9, 2017 2:40 pm

Nuclear, to renewables:

“Anything you can do I can do better”

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 9, 2017 8:53 pm

Same goes for fossil fuels.

Ed Zuiderwijk
March 9, 2017 2:48 pm

Diogenes the Greek philosopher was reportedly walking through Athens with his lamp, looking for an honest man. Not only in Athens, however. Diogenes was seen through the ages in many a place always with his lamp, looking for an honest man. So was he reported in Rio, in Kyoto, in Copenhagen. Last year, finally, he was seen in Paris where someone recognises him and asks what he was doing. And Diogenes says: I’m looking for my lamp.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
March 9, 2017 11:17 pm

Comment of the day, thanks.

March 9, 2017 3:09 pm

it is very sad that most of these people have such soft, gushy lives
that they forget that here on
….lifeboat earth
their kids and grand kids
…will be stuck here rather than flying out of the nest
due to their inaction.

They will “give up” on the competition with China
…..for the moon, Mars, Alpha Centauri, etc
they simply “party hardy”, hideaway, feather their own nest,
…….and let their grand kids pay the price.

March 9, 2017 3:39 pm

Thermalization and the Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution of gas molecules explain why CO2 has no significant effect on climate. A potentially larger threat to humanity than failing to recognize that CO2 has no significant effect on climate is failing to acknowledge what actually does.

Water vapor (WV) is the ghg which makes the planet warm enough for life as we know it. The WV trend is up as reported by NASA/RSS as shown in Fig 3 of http://globalclimatedrivers2.blogspot.com. This analysis provides the explanation of why CO2 has no significant effect on climate and identifies what does (98% match with measured average global temperatures 1895-2015)

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
March 10, 2017 2:12 am

Does water vapour really raise the surface temperature of the planet 33ºC (from -18ºC to 15ºC)?
Isn’t the real “greenhouse” gas nitrogen? The molecules of which do not radiate much and lose most of their heat by diffusion.

It is true that water vapour raises the temperature of the highest kilometre of the troposphere (10km) to 33ºC more than it would be in a dry atmosphere. (-50ºC instead of -83ºC)
Water vapour is responsible the reduction of the dry gravitational/pressure lapse rate of 9.8ºC/km to one of 6.5ºC/km. This gives a 3.3ºC/km potential temperature increase with height.
A thorough mixing of that air to the average increase throughout the column could only give a theoretical increase of 16.5ºC at the surface. (from what temperature is another question… somewhere above the freezing point of our oceans?)

However prior to any mixing this shallower lapse rate has meant that from the -18C at 5km high, as determined by the mass of nitrogen, a surface temperature is reached in 32.5ºC (5 X 6.5) of reverse lapse instead of 50ºC (5 X 10).
This shortened piece of “thermal cord” results in a reduction of the surface temperature to 14.5ºC.(-18 + 32.5) instead of 32ºC. (-18 + 50).

So an initial cooling of the surface by a reduced lapse rate is more or less balanced on a bigger scale by the mixing of any potential temperature increase with height.
In that process a lot of energy has been moved around.

This reduction of lapse rate is supposed to be caused by the release of latent heat of water vapour as it condenses with increasing altitude.
Water vapour is only there in the first place from a cooling by evaporation of somewhere else.

How thermalisation via water vapour could modify that process (and the lapse rate) is certainly interesting.
Would the thermalisation of incoming solar near-infrared add to water vapour’s effective reduction of diurnal temperature range.

feed berple
Reply to  Pablo
March 10, 2017 6:00 am

Center of mass of convective portion of atmosphere = 5km. Lapse rate = 6.5C/km. Surface warming = 5km x 6.5C/km = 32.5C without any need for GHG.

feed berple
Reply to  Pablo
March 10, 2017 6:04 am

Greenhouse warm by limiting convection. Nothing to due with radiation. Every scientist knows this. Yet climate science claims earth is warmed by same mechanism as real greenhouse.

Reply to  Pablo
March 10, 2017 12:40 pm

Average global surface temperature is determined from a simple calculation (-18°C) for no ghg, or from measurement (15°C).

Lapse rate is not a factor in assessing the temperature of the surface. Lapse rate is merely altitude vs temperature. It could, for instance, calculate the theoretical altitude (temperature) at which a solid surface at the emissivity of the actual surface and no ghg would result in the same energy-out as exists with the 15°C surface and existing ghg. A different lapse rate would simply result in a different theoretical altitude.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
March 11, 2017 1:40 am

Without water vapour and the other “greenhouse” gases a sun warmed surface would slowly radiate straight to space at rate determined by its emissivity and the temperature of the air above it.
The air would still get warm by conduction and convection from a heated surface in the sunshine.
The ground would still get warm by conduction downwards and hold some of its warmth overnight and throughout the seasons.
The warmth of a non-radiative atmosphere would be purely kinetic and so it could not cool by radiation.
The mass of this non-radiative atmosphere would determine the altitude of Earth’s effective temperature of minus 18ºC. which on average would still be at 5km high.
(5 X 9.8 = 49) downwards from minus 18ºC (-18 + 49 = 31) gives 31ºC at the surface. Twice as hot as a humid atmosphere.
As the lapse rate would now be the dry/gravitational lapse rate (same up, same down) there would be no potential temperature increase with height.
This loss of heating potential from water vapour’s condensation and its connection with a cooling of the surface would remove the moderating effect of water vapour on temperatures.
Diurnal temperature ranges and polar to tropical gradients would be more extreme.

What interests me about your net thermalisation of about 12% is that it is about the same as a combination of the solar energy directly absorbed by the atmosphere (67W/m2) plus the sensible and latent heat from the warmed surface (102W/m2) to make 169W/m2 as a percentage of the incoming solar of 1368W/m2 at the zenith.

Reply to  Pablo
March 10, 2017 4:41 pm

“Isn’t the real “greenhouse” gas nitrogen?” Simply, no it is not. Think of the energy balance. There must be a mechanism for the gas to absorb and emit radiation to affect the energy balance. Nitrogen does not have this capacity because it does not have the energy level transitions at the necessary wavelengths to affect the energy balance. This is physics.

Reply to  seaice1
March 11, 2017 2:13 am

The mechanism for a non-radiative nitrogen atmosphere to absorb heat would be by conduction and convection from a surface warmed by a more intense sunshine. The capacity of a nitrogen atmosphere to hold on to its warmth (kinetic energy) would be determined by its mass which would be the same. Once the nitrogen atmosphere had reached the Earth’s effective temperature of -18ºC at 5 km up the surface would simply radiate out any surplus and the balance would be restored.
However without water vapour to even things out and the ability of oceans to hold and move 1200 times more energy than the atmosphere from the tropics to the poles the world would be one of huge extremes.

Reply to  Pablo
March 11, 2017 6:52 am

Pablo, there was a discussion about this recently on these pages, but I can’t remember which post. If the atmosphere cannot radiate it would all warm up to a uniform temperature. The TOA could not lose energy except by conduction or convection downwards. The atmosphere would warm to the surface temperature.

I originally thought there would be a lapse ate but was persuaded otherwise. Basically the atmosphere would have energy put into it from the ground, and could not lose that energy except by contact with the ground. This seemed convincing to me.

Reply to  seaice1
March 11, 2017 9:34 am

There would always be a lapse rate due to the density gradient of an atmosphere in a gravitational field giving the same pressure gradient as we have now. It’s true that in a non- radiative atmosphere the air column in any particular location would have the same potential kinetic energy relative to its density throughout. If air could be moved upwards without any loss of energy in any particular locality it would cool by 10ºC/km and similarly downwards would warm by the same amount.
But warmer air could still mix with cooler air.
In this theoretical dry nitrogen atmosphere the poles and winter areas would be very much colder and the tropics very much hotter. Any warmer air from the tropics reaching these frigid regions would cool by contact with the frozen ground but mostly by mixing with the cold air. Balance would be restored on AVERAGE but with huge extremes.
Averages are misleading, especially where climate is concerned.

Reply to  Pablo
March 11, 2017 1:49 pm

Pab – The energy balance assessment which resulted in the 12% number (for low altitude, all eventually gets reverse-thermalized to ghg where it is radiated to space) is at http://climaterealists.com/attachments/ftp/Cloudaltitudevsglobaltemperature.pdf

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
March 11, 2017 3:12 pm

Thanks for coming back and the link to the rabbit hole of radiation budgets for a flat Earth. Not sure about cloud height determining surface temperatures.

My thinking is that the thermalisation/warming of non radiative nitrogen by collisions with radiative gases near the surface must modify the lapse rate to be less than the assumed average 6.5ºC/km due to latent heat alone.
Adding thermalisation to water vapour’s abilities to absorb incoming solar near infrared and pass it on to nitrogen as kinetic energy rather than radiate it back out straight away makes for more direct solar heating heating of the atmosphere and thus less heating for the surface.
Reverse thermalisation is surely rereversed by further collisions thus maintaining the extra kinetic energy obtained by thermalisation in the first place? Radiation from radiative gases can then only escape to space unimpeded by thermalisation when the density of the atmosphere is low enough.
I still maintain that water and its vapour are moderators not amplifiers of surface temperatures.

Reply to  Pablo
March 11, 2017 4:21 pm

Pablo. The density gradient would exist, but there seems to be no reason why a temperature gradient must exist. After equilibrium is reached, the gas through the atmosphere could all have the same temperature. Without radiation from the TOA, why should it be cooler at the top than the bottom?

“If air could be moved upwards without any loss of energy in any particular locality it would cool by 10ºC/km and similarly downwards would warm by the same amount.” This was my initial thought. If we warm the air at the bottom it expands and rises. Expanding does work and the air therefore cools. We should have a lapse rate. However, if there is no mechanism to warm the air at the bottom compared to the top (after equilibrium is reached) then there would never be any expansion, never be any work done, and therefore no lapse rate. Without radiation from TOA I don’t see why the whole air column would not each equilibrium with the ground. Were else can the energy go? The only mechanism for energy loss or gain by the atmosphere is by contact with the ground.

As an analogy, imagine the atmosphere were a liquid, but without any interaction with radiation. The liquid would surely warm to the same temperature as the ground.

Reply to  seaice1
March 11, 2017 11:55 pm

A density/pressure gradient in dry air creates a lapse rate 9.8ºC/km with the same kinetic/potential energy throughout. The temperature gradient is a result of the ever increasing distance between molecules as the air gets less dense and vice versa. The surface would still be warmed by the sun to then warm the air above. Warmer air can still mix with cooler air but will never succeed in equalising the difference between diurnal and seasonal variation or the polar to tropical gradient. Things would still be in balance overall with the incoming solar radiation, as is the case today, but with more extremes.

old construction worker
Reply to  Dan Pangburn
March 10, 2017 4:11 am

“Water vapor (WV) is the ghg which makes the planet warm enough for life as we know it.” Please kept that a secret or the UN and Elected Elites will want to tax it, Al Gore will want a to trade it for profit.

Bob Hoye
March 9, 2017 3:55 pm

Lot of serpentine thinking to get the puns out, he mused jadedly.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
March 9, 2017 11:20 pm
March 9, 2017 4:10 pm

Peak oil again already? Seriously. How many really really bright people with lots of degrees were out selling the canard just a few years ago. I had very bright friends claiming that it was obvious and only a mental defective like Me would refuse to acknowledge it. One went out and bought an electric car to escape high gas prices.

Haha hahaha…I read the fracking people and researched the published reserve data learning that it was seriously lowball. The guy who bought the electric car said it was a POS and
got rid of it. Sure one day we use up the oil but it sure as heck is not 2525. You can’t know when we will reach peak. You didn’t last time either.

Reply to  troe
March 9, 2017 4:21 pm

Oops 2025 that is. Keep tripping over that mental defective thing. Still these peak oil people are comedic geniuses.

Reply to  troe
March 9, 2017 11:22 pm

Well it was a hit song at one time , you know the days when they still made music?

Reply to  troe
March 9, 2017 4:39 pm

You might want to read my analyses. Then you can refute them with alt facts. Until then, realize that the previous generation of peak oilers were talking about conventional oil (API>10, reservoir porosity >5%, reservoir permeability >10 millidarcies). That did indeed peak in 2008 despite all the conventional Siberian Arctic and Gulf/Brazil subsalt deepwater discoveries. Just a fact. Essay IEA Facts and Fictions in ebook Blowing Smoke might be a starting factual education.

Reply to  ristvan
March 9, 2017 4:59 pm

Ok. You are a very smart guy who knows how to slice and dice. Why does it matter in this instant where the oil comes from. That is rhetorical. Peak oil isn’t peak oil if we keep accessing more of it. Frankly you debate like a genius brain surgeon talking about a sore toe. The answer is put a bag of frozen corn on it.

But you did smoke me out as
uneducated. Although I have a degree I’m really an auto dicdat and it shows. Maybe we should play for money 🙂

Reply to  ristvan
March 9, 2017 5:40 pm

Troe, it matters hugely if you know about geophysics. The type of oil determines both the annual rate of extraction per unit TRR, and the cost per barrel to do so. Both factor into peak total oil production.

Reply to  ristvan
March 9, 2017 6:07 pm

Troe, I suggested you try to educate yourself. Which presumed you are intelligent and educatsble. So sorry to hear that in your own opiniion thst is not the case. And, I do not need your money–although it would apparently be easy to take.

Reply to  ristvan
March 10, 2017 12:12 am


“Troe, I suggested you try to educate yourself. Which presumed you are intelligent and educatsble. So sorry to hear that in your own opiniion thst is not the case”

I love it, cheered me up no end on this grey March morning. Good to see your keyboard is as bad as mine !
Educatsble = The potential for training your cat to do something useful around the house 🙂

Reply to  ristvan
March 10, 2017 8:28 am


You say

Troe, I suggested you try to educate yourself.

I say to you, physician heal thyself.

There is no foreseeable problem of peak oil because
there is sufficient coal available to provide all needsa for both coal and oilfor at least the next 300 years and some estimaters say the ne3xt 1,000 years,
and (b)
the Liquid Solvent Extraction (LSE) process has been capable of producing synthetic crude oil (i.e. syncrude) from coal at competitive cost (n.b. cost and not price) with crude oil since 1994.

We proved the technical and economic abilities of the LSE process with a demonstration plant at Point Of Ayr in North Wales.

Syncrude has been made from coal whenever the supply of crude has been constrained. The Germans did it during WW2 (which is why we bombed the Ruhr valley) and apartheid South Africa used Sasol which was a development of that German process.

However, prior to LSE it was always more costly to mine, transport and convert coal to syncrude than to drill and transport crude. LSE has reversed those relative costs.

The surprising economics of LSE derive from two facts.
LSE consumes sulphur-rich bottoms which have disposal cost for oil refineries.
LSE can be ‘tuned’ to provide hydrocarbons which reduce need for blending.

An oil refinery separates the components of crude oil by distilling the crude. The separated components are products which must match market demand; e.g. producing the required amount of benzene must not result in producing too much or too little petroleum. This match of products to market demand is obtained by blending (i.e. mixing) different crude oils for distillation: crudes from different places contain different proportions of hydrocarbons.

Blending is expensive. It requires a variety of crudes to be transported and stored then mixed in controlled ratios.

This need for blending is why Brent Crude is so valuable. Saudi crude is the cheapest crude, and blending Saudi and Brent crudes in a ratio of about 2:1 provides a blend that nearly matches market demand for its distillates.

The LSE process can be ‘tuned’ such that it outputs a syncrude which can provide distillates which match market demand and, thus, removes the need for expensive blending. This is achieved as follows.
An LSE plant dissolves coal in a solvent in an ebulating bed at controlled temperature and pressure.
The resulting solution is converted to hydrocarbons by exposure to hydrogen gas (produced by coal using a water-gas shift) in the presence of catalysts and at variable temperature and pressure. Adjusting the temperature and pressure determines the resulting proportions of hydrocarbons.
Changing the temperature and pressure causes the hydrocarbons to come out of solution and the solvent is separated then reused in the process.
The remaining solids (mostly ash minerals) are removed by filtration as a cake.

Conversion efficiency is greater than 98%. And the not-converted residue can be burned as a fuel.

The UK’s Coal Research Establishment (CRE) invented, developed and demonstrated the LSE process. CRE was owned by British Coal which was owned by UK government. Ownership of the LSE Process remained with the government when British Coal was closed in 1995.

The LSE Process is owned by UK Government. Patents on the process were taken out but details of the process are a UK State Secret. Adoption of the LSE Process would collapse the value of Brent Crude, and the sale of Brent Crude is important income for the UK.

However, the existence of the LSE Process constrains the true price of crude oil. If that price were to rise sufficiently then it would pay the UK to adopt the LSE Process or to license it to other countries for production of syncrude. Hence, the existence of the LSE process has a strategic value as a result of its constraint on the true oil price.

And the UK may adopt the LSE Process when Brent Crude is exhausted.

However, frack-gas may remove need to adopt the LSE Process for use although its strategic constraint on oil price will remain.

So, stop fretting: all the worries you proclaim are unfounded.


Reply to  troe
March 9, 2017 6:22 pm

The term peak oil means different things to different people.

To some it means massive change, and with change comes the opportunity for power/economic redistribution. They see opportunity to take advantage of others’ fears, kinda like price gouging, but based only on make believe scarcity.

To others it means there is a precipice, and something needs done to keep from falling off. They are scared

To me it means that the highest point of annual production has been reached, for oil, and it is likely that energy corporations with good management strategies have diversified.

Reply to  DonM
March 9, 2017 8:04 pm

There will be no precipice. But tightening supplies imply sharply rising prices since oil demand is fairly inelastic. That suggests significant economic disruptions.

Reply to  DonM
March 10, 2017 9:49 am

Tightening supplies imply rising prices..

How sharply depends on many other variables (regulatory comes to mind first).

The $64 question is: over what (significant?) time period will the economic change/diversivicaton (or disruption if you prefer) occur, and how (can? will? should?) a regulatory stick/carrot impact that time frame.

March 9, 2017 4:42 pm

“Even though the trees-to-pellets-to-power process emits more carbon dioxide and pollution than coal-based power generation, the “wood fool” arrangement is considered to be “carbon neutral,” because growing replacement trees over the next century or two will absorb CO2”

Do you not agree with this this? Whatever your objections are, this does not seem to be reasonable one.
If the CO2 is readsorbed by the new trees it cannot contribute to continuing atmospheric CO2 levels.

“Probably the biggest single problem with any supposedly renewable, sustainable alternative is its horrendously low energy density: the amount of energy produced per acre.”
This is clearly an absurd argument. We can get much more energy per acre from uranium than from coal, but this does not mean that coal is a hopeless energy source. There is no logical reason that energy per acre should be our defining property, and it is really rather silly to suggests this is the case. That is unless number of acres is our limiting factor, which is clearly not the situation.

“Finally, the energy produced from all these “planet-saving” enterprises is far more costly than what could be produced using fossil fuels.” At last! A valid point! The cost is really the only thing we should be considering. All this other nonsense about energy density is just distraction. The cost is the key, and by ant reasonable economic theory include environmental damage. We can argue about the size of these costs, but introducing energy density and the like is simply distraction.

Reply to  seaice1
March 9, 2017 5:10 pm

See DLK below. And, there is all the fossil fuel used to plant, maintain, fertilize, harvest, ship, process, and ship to final destination.

The poor energy density goes to the heart of why wind and solar are so ridiculously bad deals. How much habitat must be destroyed? How many animals, both airborne and other, must be sacrificed to this ravenous God? How much material will be diverted from production that actually makes our lives better?

Reply to  Bartemis
March 9, 2017 8:44 pm

Nuclear is a million times as energy dense as a carbon-hydrogen bond. If you are going to push density get off the fossil fuel kick and start advocating liquid fluoride thorium reactors. We can change the planet in 20 years.


old construction worker
Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 4:30 am

“There is no logical reason that energy per acre should be our defining property, and it is really rather silly to suggests this is the case.” Your right, we have plenty of land but is wind and solar the best use of that land. Remember the housing bubble? We will have a wind and solar production bubble. Why? Because of all the “free money”.

Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 7:43 am

Let me know when you have a nuclear reactor suitable for powering a car.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 8:55 am

Nuclear power feeds the grid. The grid is used to recharge electric vehicles. No oil, coal, wind or solar needed. Sales of plug-in vehicles in the US passed the 1% mark last year. The GM battery powered Chevy Bolt garnered several “car of the year” awards this year. At $2/gallon gasoline there’s not much incentive to go electric, but when gas gets to $5/gallon, that equation changes. Electric car sales in Europe are higher.

Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 8:57 am

“Let me know when you have a nuclear reactor suitable for powering a car.”

Energy can be stored in many ways. Right now, a lot of people’s needs can be satisfied with electric cars. I am not so much against electric cars as I am against the pipe dream of powering them with electricity generated from wind and solar. Wind and solar can barely generate a fraction of ordinary electricity used for the usual purposes, and only after devastating large swaths of land and habitat to do so. The idea that they can provide for transportation as well is just ludicrous.

But, with nuclear, all that can be done.

I do not necessarily believe that fossil fuels will be exhausted, given the many premature proclamations of its end. And, I do not believe that, on the whole, they are particularly bad for the environment.

But, I do think it is rational and prudent to prepare for the worst. And, by prepare, I do not mean a big government program. I mean an effort to clear the obstacles for adoption of the latest generation of safe and reliable, wide-scale nuclear power generation.

Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 10:20 am

Battery powered cars will never get past the toy level until a battery that can hold at least 2 to 3 times current batteries and can be re-charged in 5 minutes or so is invented.
Oh, total cost of ownership, including road taxes, has to come down by a huge factor as well to make them cost competitive.

Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 12:03 pm

A battery that could charge in 5 minutes for a 300 mile range would have literally explosive potential. The thing about energy storage is that, any device that can rapidly and efficiently store energy can rapidly and efficiently release it.

However, battery swaps are a potential solution there.

There are certainly many challenges, but electric cars would already satisfy many, if not most, driver’s needs. I’m sure they will get better in time, but I do not see a need for government subsidies. We have plenty of time before the crunch comes, if it ever does. And, if and when it does, the demand from consumers will fund it in the most efficient manner.

There’s a lot to like about electric cars: simpler drivetrain, quiet ride, emissions displaced to central generating facility where it can be better controlled (zero if nuclear powered). Just because the AGW excuse and the government Robin-Hood-in-reverse subsidies are cockeyed does not mean the very idea has no merit.

stephen duval
Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 5:02 pm

@ davidgmillsatty

I agree with you that the debate is between fossil fuels and nuclear.

Renewables are not worth debating. They only purpose of renewables is to divert investment that could be going towards breaking the OPEC cartel. The real purpose of renewables is to promote the conversion from coal to natural gas for electricity production. Natural gas is the only fuel that can deal with the intermittentcy of renewables. The strange thing is that natural gas without renewables is cheaper than natural gas with renewables because you can run the natural gas turbines at optimum revolutions rather than cranking them up and down as the wind blows and the sun shines.

I do not agree with you that we should wait 20 years for the development of liquid fluoride thorium reactors. Sodium fast reactors are available today and are superior in many ways ie. uranium efficiency, better on waste, equal or better on proliferation, far superior on corrosion, and equal on safety. The primary differentiator is the estimated life and the amount of waste. If a sodium fast reactor is depreciated over 20 years and operated for 100 or 200 years or more, that is a very attractive investment.

Please see some of the posts I made above.

Nevertheless, I find the Thorcon proposal very intriguing. Maybe the metal working process that you are proposing could be adapted to the manufacture of 1000’s of 100 MWe SFRs. That would be my preferred approach.

stephen duval
Reply to  Bartemis
March 10, 2017 5:23 pm

When nuclear is capable of producing hydrogen by splitting water, it will be able to power a car. Hydrogen can be combined with CO2 from the air to produce methanol which is an excellent transportation fuel. Methanol can be fed to an internal combustion engine with at most $100 in modifications, can be fed to Direct Methanol Fuel Cell if they ever become an automotive possibility, or with onboard reforming of methanol to hydrogen can feed a hydrogen fuel cell.

It is best to think of methanol as a hydrogen carrier. Methanol can be pumped in a pipeline, dispenced via a traditional fuel pump, and stored in a gas tank.

If the Uranium Carbonate cycle works to produce hydrogen at 650C, then molten salt reactors should be able to produce hydrogen within 20 years. Otherwise the temperature required is 850C and it will probably take longer and Helium gas reactors enter the picture.

Alternatively, if batteries ever become economic, nuclear electric will be able to power cars. Plugin hybrids with a 20-40 mile range may be able to economically reduce oil demand by a huge percentage relatively soon. Almost all cars are driven less than 40 miles per day.

Leonard Weinstein
Reply to  seaice1
March 9, 2017 5:44 pm

The energy density problem does come in if you consider that solar and wind only give a very small percent of needed energy, and scaling it to full coverage would take a huge fraction of area. Further, good locations for both are limited, so long transmission lined would be needed. This does not even consider the storage need, which is unsolved, and dispatch efficiency. At a few percent of total, those issues do not come up. It is worse than you think for many other reasons.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 5:59 pm

It’s easy to put more than enough solar on a residential roof to cover residential power used.

Commercial/Industrial is more of a problem. But solar doesn’t have to cover all energy used. Every watt produced is a watt less that has to be produce from fossil fuels, leaving them available for other uses.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 6:56 pm

“0x01010101 March 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

It’s easy to put more than enough solar on a residential roof to cover residential power used.”

Except when you are a tenant in a block of apartments.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 6:58 pm

Additional, some blocks being built here in Australia have 50 or more apartments in the one block. How big a roof do you need to power 50 apartments?

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 10:00 pm

well maybe it’s a population density problem then, eh?
maybe most of the problems are.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 11:30 pm


It’s easy to put more than enough solar on a residential roof to cover residential power used.

Who told you that? Solar alone on your roof can’t run your modern refrigerator 24/7 or your A/C. (Tesla’s Solar City sales manager told me that.) Try living in southern Nevada, Arizona, or west Texas without either one.

You could buy a battery to store the extra energy your roof generates but you would need a minimum of six to cover the A/C during the hottest nine hours of the day. A/C drains a battery in 1.5 hours. Each battery costs $5,000.

Roof solar can barely run a modern 50″ television and a few 100-watt bulbs for 4-6 hours at the same time while you sweat there without A/C or a cold beer.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 9, 2017 11:52 pm

Transmission lines are in place everywhere . To me, build nuclear in isolated areas and I believe you can hook them up to existing lines. Just as existing oil and gas lines are in place already which makes the whole Dakota incident look ridiculous. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes all over the place!

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 12:18 am

Following Anthony’s example I installed solar PV panels on my roof as well as solar hot water generation systems. I must admit they have been very useful in dropping my energy bills by about 50%. They are not the perfect response to cheap power, but a 50% reduction is not to be sneezed at .

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 1:58 am


Commercial/Industrial is more of a problem. But solar doesn’t have to cover all energy used.

As I told you with sourcesthree+ weeks ago (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/02/19/nasa-to-focus-on-space-science-senate-passes-the-nasa-transition-act/comment-page-1/#comment-2432126), according to the actual report you referenced (without reading it) in the article you handwaved at the time as proof that renewables were handling 30% of the world’s energy, solar can only meet 2.9% of global energy needs.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 2:01 am


There are hundreds of thousands of miles of pipes all over the place!

You oughta’ see Europe’s pipeline map!

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 4:57 am

0x0(etc) – you can get a lot of power from a factory roof or a supermarket, even in rainy UK – 7 UK car plants and dozens of UK supermarkets have solar panels

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 7:46 am

It’s not all that easy. Just talk to those who have actually done it.
Even in the best locations, roof top solar only provides a small percentage of the total amount of power needed by an average house.
As you go further north that goes from a small percentage to a tiny percentage.
The problem is that because solar is not reliable, you have to back it up with a fossil fuel plant running at full power so that it can take over when ever an inconvenient cloud passes over head.
As result, solar does not actually reduce fossil fuel usage. It just makes idiots feel good about spending other people’s money.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 9:08 am

” Every watt produced is a watt less that has to be produce from fossil fuels, leaving them available for other uses.”

A watt is not a quantity of energy, but of energy rate. You should have said, every joule produced is a joule less that has to be produced from fossil fuels. But, those joules are not 1:1. Every joule from solar power requires backup dispatchable joules, and losses from life cycle and redirection of materials and land from other productive use. I’d bet you would be lucky to say that, under a full and honest accounting, every joule produced is 1/10th of a joule less that has to be produced from fossil fuels. It is a horrifically inefficient allocation of resources, and environmentally devastating as well.

Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 10, 2017 10:21 am

energia, why do you insist on beclowning yourself?
The discussion is about generating electricity.

March 9, 2017 4:56 pm

About wood pellets producing more CO2 than the coal they replace: I saw in a recent WUWT article that the explanation is that the replacement trees would take centuries to convert to biomass the amount of CO2 produced by burning the wood pellets. This is mostly not true.

Chris Chantrill
March 9, 2017 5:46 pm

I get that money and power are fueling the clean energy game. But what about the love of beautiful women? That must be in there somewhere.

David L. Hagen
March 9, 2017 5:57 pm

Paul Driessen
Rather than denigrating researchers and engineers seeking long term solutions, please lay out the requirements for sustainable fuels and energy. E.g.:
1. Be cheaper than oil, coal, and gas.
2. Provide energy storage/ be dispatchable.
3. Provide a multi-generational long term fuel and energy supplies.

I recommend Edgar Guest’s poem: It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it! . . .

Our grandchildren will still need reliable energy. Developing countries urgently need to develop their economies, and thus use more energy. Transport energy is especially important. Petroleum currently provides ~ 93% of transport fuel and is not easily replaced.

Mazama Science’s Energy Export Databrowser documents declining oil production, increasing consumption and growing oil imports by country. E.g. Former OPEC member Indonesia used to export oil. Now it is a major importer.
Euan Mearns documents the consequent regional and global challenges in Peak Oil Exports.

Yes early efforts at making renewable energy competitive have been difficult, given the entrenched position of trillion dollar fossil investments. Yet please separate our strategic need to provide long term sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels from “climate change” hype.
Major energy transitions typically take 40 years -yet patents only provide protection for 20. Energy industries have notoriously low R&D budgets compared to conventional companies.
Bill Gates is trying to address that gap with an $1 billion investment group.
Bill Gates Launches $1 Billion Breakthrough Energy Investment Fund
See: Breakthrough Energy. See the technical issues addressed in the Landscape

Reply to  David L. Hagen
March 10, 2017 5:04 am

A case in point are island communities with no local fossil fuel, where fuel for power supplies (e.g. diesel) is imported… using local renewable energy provides a cost saving…

for example, Hawaii, planning to go renewable for electricity by 2045, where Tesla just set up a grid scale battery complex allowing supply of soalr power to be used at night and saving 1.6 million gallons of diesel a year

Gary Pearse
March 9, 2017 6:21 pm

We must flood the Trump admin with high quality information daily on real energy costs and benefits, the social costs of ill-founded policies on carbon dioxide and the real benefits of elevated amounts of this building block of life.

Initiatives are needed for informing third world countries about the menacing, neocolonial onslaught of the anti-economic development vision the NWO has in store for them and the cynical buy-off through showering of cash to paralyze meaningful economic progress that is available only through cheap abundant energy (symposia, journals, new news media, seminars at universities …) .

Trump is trying to drain the swamp and the alligators from both parties and the university-government-research-NGO-UN-Elites-industrial complex are snapping at the seat of his pants. Please don’t let him compromise on these earthly important issues.

March 9, 2017 7:24 pm

Ristvan one of us is flying blind. (Had to take a call sorry for the delay) Peak Oil only means one thing:supply peaks and then goes down. Supply has not peaked and you don’t have a way of knowing when it will. All other considerations like those you keep mentioning affect different aspects if oil i.e. price but they are meaningless in terms of total supply.

You have probably forgotten more abiut oil than I will ever know but you are missing the point. Peak Oil doesn’t mean what you want it to mean. It means what we understand it to mean. I have chucked a man for misusing the word “Done” Don’t think he ever understood why the meaning of that word was si important. Our clients got it.

How are you not getting that. Peak Oil means less after tbe peak We will not have less to convert after 2025. Lots more to tap from shale, new finds, and much more to strip from old fields using developing technologies. It will likely cost more but its still available.

Keith J
Reply to  troe
March 9, 2017 8:39 pm

What about the Persian Basin in TX? Wolfcamp shale is just the beginning. There are at least three plays beneath that which have recoverable quantity. One lease, many plays.

March 9, 2017 8:08 pm

Geo is earth and physics is physical properties. So lets use that in a sentence. People who understand geophysics do not beleive that the earth has physical properties as it is to expensive to buy. Man you are helping me get educated already. Thanks wristband.

March 9, 2017 9:04 pm

When are we going to get posts from the nuclear industry? The fossil fuel v. renewables debate is getting old and tired.

stephen duval
Reply to  davidgmillsatty
March 10, 2017 5:48 pm

For sure. The Greens are whores. They sided with the coal industry to kill nuclear. Now they are siding with Oil and Gas to kill coal. They promote subsidies so that those without principle can feed at the government trough and somehow feel morally superior. Global Warming has corrupted science.

And the high priced energy policies that they advocate hurt to poor, hinder economic development in the third world, and fund the jihad against the West.

Being anti Green does not imply that I am in favor of dirty air or water. That is the false dichotomy promoted by the Left. When the Soviet Union went down, the Left looked around and hitched their wagon to environmentalism. As long as they are increasing the control of the political class over the ordinary citizen, enabling them to rip off even more money, they are happy. They do not care whether of not CO2 causes global warming, they are only interested in using it to advance their political agenda.

March 9, 2017 9:26 pm

Surely ‘alternative’ energy will never be economically viable until we can store Gigawatts of electricity over an extended period of weeks. Mick G

From: Watts Up With That? To: mickgreenhough@yahoo.co.uk Sent: Thursday, 9 March 2017, 21:56 Subject: [New post] Diogenes searching for honest energy policies #yiv4324039558 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4324039558 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4324039558 a.yiv4324039558primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4324039558 a.yiv4324039558primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4324039558 a.yiv4324039558primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4324039558 a.yiv4324039558primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4324039558 WordPress.com | Anthony Watts posted: “Renewable energy is defective solution in search of a problem, money and power Paul DriessenThe Greek philosopher Diogenes reportedly carried an oil lamp during the daytime, the better to help him find an honest man. People everywhere should j” | |

Reply to  mickgreenhough
March 10, 2017 5:06 am

Bearing in mind a lot of electricity demand will be during the daytime in a hot country with excellent solar resource, with demand being lower after midnight and grid csale batteries and soalr CSP being available, that point is already here for India, Chile, Australia southern/western parts of the US

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 7:49 am

In any place with high humidity, the difference between AC load at 5pm and midnight is not all that great.

March 9, 2017 11:14 pm

Projections of Peak-Oil have been coming out regularly for about 100 years and all have failed. There is no dropping off in the frequency of these Peak-Oil predictions and there has been no increase in their success either. At least there is some consistency here. Projections of supply of anything that is buried in the ground, or in the future are notoriously difficult to make. Like gold, it is where you find it..

March 9, 2017 11:37 pm


Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 10, 2017 12:56 am

no Mosh, a massive “F” for you.. as always.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 11, 2017 7:27 am

Mosh your bluetooth keyboard is now discoverable…you may finish your comment.

Gary Pearse
March 10, 2017 12:51 am

Notice that no one includes in the statistics of renewables, the acres of land required to get this paltry but expensive 3% contribution. What is it anyone?

I see also talk about how expensive oil and gas is going to be from fracking, etc.etc. going into the future after peak oil. If all-in costs for generated, stored, backed up, delivered, full accounting including externalities like dead eagles, land sequestered, etc wind and silar is $1.25/kWhr, and oil and gas is $0.10 per, then o&g could economically be produced at $500/be! Let’s recalculate peak oil now!. We could dig it up and distill it all and sell the clean sand for golf courses. I’ve never seen such immature comparing of technologies by supposedly bright LIGHTS (lites? ).

I have a news flash for most. Relax. You don’t have to do anything. It’s not to late for anything. The whole thing is automatically taken care of as long as we don’t bugger up the magic of economics left to do its thing. Technology has never let us down. It is only when we let idle artsy folks worry their designer brains about such matters.

March 10, 2017 12:51 am

…In America, lamps look at you.

Reply to  Zeke
March 10, 2017 8:26 am

“In America, lamps look at you.”

That probably applies to the whole world.

You know its bad when the FBI Director routinely puts tape over his computer’s webcam camera.

March 10, 2017 5:05 am

A very good piece summarising the crazy situation we are in. The problem we face is the weight of moral opinion on the ‘alarmist’ side, who choose to ignore these inconvenient issues. As evidenced in some of the response to Mtr Pruitt’s comment that the jury is still out on CO2 as a causal factor in climate change, they parallel the argument with smoking and lung cancer. These people have been brainwashed by the CO2 alarmist argument so they are literally unable to comprehend or acknowledge the damage being done by the futile attempts to reduce emissions as it runs counter to their worldview.

Reply to  rwoollaston
March 10, 2017 5:08 am

The jury is NOT out on CO2.

all evidence points to it.

where is Pruitt’s evidence?

He has peer reviewed science papers?
A paper?
A science paper by any scientist in climate or atmospheric studies?
By any reputable scientist in whatever field?

I don’t think he does.

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 6:18 am

While the world is gently warming and has been for centuries, there is a good deal of statistical evidence, based on observation, that there is very little correlation between CO2 emissions and global temperatures.

Most of the evidence in favour of a link actually relates to climate models, which tend to be designed embedding the assumption of a link, rather than direct observational evidence.

There is significant evidence of the benefits of higher CO2 concentations; an area similar to that of North America is now fertile having previously been arid. There is good evidence for this link as many plant growers maintain artificially high CO2 concentrations in order to promote growth.

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 7:51 am

Over the last 100 years, there has been no correlation to warming and CO2.
There have been times when CO2 increased and temperatures went up, went down, and stayed the same for almost 20 years.
That FACT alone is sufficient to disprove the claim that CO2 is anything other than an extremely minor player when it comes to climate.

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 8:39 am

“The jury is NOT out on CO2.

all evidence points to it.

where is Pruitt’s evidence?”

Where is *your* evidence that CO2 causes the climate to change?

We are no hotter today than we were in the 1930’s, and the 1930’s heat was not caused by CO2, so the current climate we are in is certainly within natural climate variations of the recent past, when CO2 was not an issue.

You can’t prove that anything that has happened since the 1930’s is anything other than the natural variability of the climate. Nothing unprecedented has happened. CO2 is supposed to give us unprecedented hot/bad weather, according to alarmists. Where is it? These last few years have been some of the mildest I have had the pleasure of experiencing.

Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 8:57 am

Do you realize what web page your on?

Regardless, it matters not.

The EPA abandoned science almost as soon as it was founded. It is a political animal; and its about to roll the other direction. Enjoy the ride.

stephen duval
Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 6:00 pm


You are right. The jury is not out on CO2. Global Warming is a massive fraud.

NOAA has adjusted temperatures to correspond to increasing CO2 levels. There is a R**2 correlation between NOAA adjustments to temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration of .98.


Reply to  Griff
March 10, 2017 6:39 pm

“The jury is NOT out on CO2.”

You know, you’re right about that.

In the REAL world outside the fantasies of you Global control freaks and troughsnouters like Gore, the jury was never even empanneled, because there was no question of the guilt of the beneficial trace gas CO2.

Have you refused for repeatedly lying about Dr. Crockford yet, you obnxious little cyber-bully?

How many of the posters on here would you call to their faces the insults you throw about in your posts on these blogs, what was it, “mad, stupid or paid for” – even the women like Dr. Crockford or Prof. Curry, you brave little keyboard warrior?

I’ll tell you – precisely none.

Just pray you never ever meet one of them in person.

Tell you what, I live in the UK, why don’t we have a meeting, then you can call me “mad, stupid or paid for” to my face?

stephen duval
Reply to  rwoollaston
March 10, 2017 9:33 pm


You are right. The jury is not out on CO2. Global Warming is a hoax committed by NOAA.

Adjustments to temperature by NOAA are R**2 correlated to atmospheric concentration of CO2 at .98. This is the Greens Global Warming Theory, that CO2 concentration and temperature are correlated and we have a .98 correlation between adjustments that NOAA made to temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration.

A .98 R**2 correlation is not a coincidence for adjustments that are man made. This is proof that NOAA deliberately manipulated the temperature data to bring it into conformance with the theory that they were advocating. How else can you get a .98 correlation without deliberate action by the NOAA?

Bruce Cobb
March 10, 2017 5:47 am

Griffie, your cluelessness about CO2 and science itself is truly mind-boggling.

Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 8:04 am

People who bet on “renewable” energy under Carter lost. Remove subsidies and
wind and solar will fold. If an idea or product is good, it will win in the market place
without subsidies.

The electric car first hit the streets ~115 years ago. At times I take long trips, frequently
driving 6-700 miles per day. My full sized Chevrolet pickup goes ~ 500 mi per energy
stop and in 15-18 minutes,I am ready for the next 500 mi. This energy stop can be
accomplished at most highway interchanges. Try that with an electric car.

Predictions of peak oil have always been wrong, although prognosticators have
always found a reason for their error.

The massive reservoir of natural gas hydrates has only begun to be understood.

Advances in technology have always eliminated peaks.

I do not understand how people can look at the massive amounts of known
hydrocarbons in just our solar system, not to mention the known universe and
then call the hydrocarbons on earth “fossils”.

We autodidacts are not stuck in a paradigm limited by formal education.

We are using hydrocarbons, limited only by current knowledge and

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 9:24 am

Jerry: “The electric car first hit the streets ~115 years ago. At times I take long trips, frequently
driving 6-700 miles per day. My full sized Chevrolet pickup goes ~ 500 mi per energy
stop and in 15-18 minutes,I am ready for the next 500 mi. This energy stop can be
accomplished at most highway interchanges. Try that with an electric car.”

I get it, electric cars are not for you. But there are a lot of households, particularly in the US, that have two cars. Many of them have two adult commuters that drive in different directions. They don’t necessarily need both cars to have unlimited range. Then there are people who travel long distance only occasionally. They are free to rent the occasional car. I’ve done that. My personal opinion is that oil is a valuable commodity, regardless of how much there is, so let’s dial down the amount burned to power cars.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
March 10, 2017 10:25 am

If you want to buy an electric car, good for you.
Please do so without robbing me in the process if you don’t mind.
You aren’t saving the planet, or your kids money, or anything else. But if it makes you feel good about yourself, then enjoy.

Reply to  MarkW
March 10, 2017 10:45 am

The logic of adding the demands of personal transportation to the electrical grid, which is designed for the support of homes and manufacturing, does not make sense.

There is use, and there is misuse. Putting food in tanks is misuse. Using the grid for cars is misuse.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
March 11, 2017 2:07 am

Until we have plentiful power from nuclear sources, electric vehicles are, environmentally and economically, a bit of a con.

If you take into account the power generation process, they are less efficient than conventionally fuelled cars.

With the political pressure for power generators to use politically geeen power sources, we in the UK are chopping down your precious forests in West Virginia for wood pellets to fuel three of our biggest previously coal power stations (Drax). These emit more CO2 and pollutants than clean coal.

The government is subsidising renewables by approximately the same again as the wholesale price of electricity.

The electric car drtiver benefits from low running costs, and pays hardly any tax on the vehicle, leaving others to shoulder the tax burden.

So when I see a Tesla or similar, I see it mowing down forests and consuming tax revenue. It only works in the virtual world the politicians and others have created to justify it.

March 10, 2017 8:59 am

Another of your excellent articles, Paul. Thank you.

Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 9:01 am

Current knowledge in Russia. Mendeleev has good references. See his table.
He came up with/supported this theory.


You will notice that the reference is to natural gas, not methane. Hydrates are
75-95% methane, the remainder is ethane, butane, propane, etc.


We will not run out of hydrocarbons.

Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 10:12 am

On a long enough timeline, all hydrocarbons are exposed to air or water, are
eaten by microbes or sunlight, converted to CO2. Most CO2 is absorbed by the
oceans, converted to carbonates, ocean floor is subdued, at great depth and pressure,
mixes with chemicals and water, forms hydrocarbons, and rises toward the surface,
as the pressure holding it down is relieved, replenishes reservoirs, on a continuous
basis. We will never run out.

Reply to  Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 10:26 am

If I lived in a place that dark, cold and under that kind of pressure I’d be pretty subdued as well.

Jerry Henson
Reply to  Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 10:47 am


Jerry Henson
Reply to  Jerry Henson
March 10, 2017 2:31 pm

Type, post, proofread. I must work on that sequence.

Douglas Lampert
Reply to  Jerry Henson
March 13, 2017 8:03 am

We’ll never completely run out (at least not during the existence of the Earth, never is a very long time).

But the existence of natural renewal doesn’t make supply unlimited (this is in fact the same problem many other “renewables” like wood pellets have). The reason we won’t run out of fuel any time soon is because the known reserves are in fact huge, and grow almost constantly as people find more reserves, and better extraction methods.

Jerry Henson
March 12, 2017 12:17 pm



“Fluxes of carbon between the solid Earth and the exosphere have
played an important role in modulating Earth’s atmosphere and climate
over geological time scales4. Vast amounts of CO2 are emitted into
the atmosphere by volcanism, which is thought to influence climate
and weather5. In the return direction, CO2 in the atmosphere is
absorbed by water and precipitated as carbonate and carbonated
silicate6, and a proportion of the CO2 is released back into the
atmosphere during the weathering of carbonate-bearing rocks and

The article is correct in the process which makes the carbon available
for recycling but the reintroduction of the CO2 to the atmosphere by
volcanism alone is incorrect. The amount of carbon being cycled
is much too great to be explained by volcanoes alone.

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