[ExI] Doomsday Oil Price: (was RIP: Peak Oil)

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Tue Mar 6 05:30:31 UTC 2012

On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 4:23 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 12:39:37AM -0700, Kelly Anderson wrote:
>> Solar is VERY expensive on a per house retrofit basis. And that is how
> FWIW, some 40% of new German installations by power are small and
> invidually owned. It's about over half if you consider the farmers.

The only reason you have this in Germany is because of the government
subsidies. I have read some reports that indicate that all the PV
installed there is actually counter productive, when you consider that
current PV panels have an effective life of around 15 years. Of
course, if the rest of the system, inverters and so forth have a
longer life span, it may well pay off. The worst part of all of these
systems is the batteries, which die after only around 3-4 years in
most cases. Dead batteries put my former system into a completely
useless state for nearly a year.

>> it is normally approached in the USA. Medium sized 200-500 household
>> installations is an entirely different animal, and that's going to be
>> competitive in the next decade.
> Germany is at 20% renewable now, but it's only electricity.
> Too little too late. If US thinks they can wait, well, consider
> the outcome if that assumption is wrong.

I'd much rather be the US than Germany economically right now. Greece
and friends are dragging you down pretty heavy, and that's not pretty.
Solar or lack of it is the least of the problems Europe has at the
moment... at least according to the media reports I've heard.

>> >> it is certainly less expensive than new nuclear,
>> >
>> > If you make the solar jump in the loops as you do with new nuclear
>> > plants it would be much more expensive than new nuclear.
> Er. New nuclear is expensive because of safety requirements.
> Obviously PV panels don't have corium as main failure mode and
> millions of pipe welds to control.

Nuclear is expensive because it is caught between brain dead engineers
that think they need to design each plant from scratch, and brain dead
tree huggers on the other side that think it's dangerous, when it
clearly is not statistically, even when you take Chernobyl and
Fukashima into account. Yet people think bears are dangerous when they
kill relatively few people too... it's part of the human psychology to
be afraid of a strange form of death more than a familiar form of

>> Nuclear won't work because of the tree huggers. It's DOA, despite
>> being highly reasonable technology.
> The only reasonable technology is a sustainable one. To qualify
> as borderline sustainable nuclear needs breeders, and breeders (whatever
> fuel cycle) are the most expensive and unsafe power sources known
> to man, and they breed pitifully to boot. If you don't have breeders, and
> ramp up you'll get peak uranium before 2040. That means we don't
> have to bother, as these will probably never EROEI nor ROI.
>> > Do any foundry use solar for producing aluminium or steel or whatever?
> Of course.
>> > At what costs?
>> A lot of aluminum is smelted near large hydroelectric dams. The TVA
> Geothermal in Iceland produces very cheap and plentiful power, but
> Huldufólk (and Sigur Ros) hate aluminium plants.

Too bad, it would be a great place to do aluminum.

>> dams were originally built to this purpose. If hydroelectric isn't
>> solar, what is... ;-)
>> >> Solar PV will be cheaper than dirty coal in less than 10 years, at
>> >> which point the whole debate will look very silly in the retrospect.
>> >
>> > In the next ten years is not now.
>> We don't have a huge problem right now. If we did, we would have $15 a
>> gallon gasoline.
> We have 1.70 EUR/l at the moment, FWIW.

I have never truly understood why gasoline is so much more expensive
in Europe than in the US. I always assumed that it was because the
European governments were screwing up the free market or taxing the
hell out of it, but I don't know if that's the case or not. Maybe the
US government subsidizes the prices here somehow to keep them
artificially low. I don't understand that part. Wish I did.

>> > If wishes were horses we would be endangered by their manure.
>> > When, in ten years, PV will produce power at rates lower or comparable
>> > with dirty coal or dirty nuclear we will see. In the interim, it is not
>> > true.
>> >
>> > If I'm in high water, being able to swim the next week will not prevent
>> > me from drowning now.
>> Who is drowning now? I bought gasoline today. It was reasonably
>> priced. It's all hyped up for political reasons. Do we need a national
> Increasing inability to meet demand at declining EROEI are hardly
> political reasons. Given lack of electrified rail in many locations
> in the world one is looking forward to LA riot level of disruption when
> there's not just price ballistically penetrating the ceiling, but also
> actual rationing.

I just don't see it happening without a huge blow up in Iran or equivalent.

>> energy policy? You bet. Let's stop subsidizing the oil industry. Other
>> than that, let's just let the market work.a
> Markets don't work in areas like long-term planning (30-40 years) or
> public infrastructure. I don't know why people hate on FiTs, we wouldn't
> have these cheap PV panels if Germany hadn't kickstart the market
> single-handedly. Now the work's done.

Do we really need to plan 30 years ahead in energy? What would that
long term a plan even look like? What would it even say? Let's find
more oil? Let's hope Moore's Law applies to solar panels? what? I
really think that the Germans did a bit of service to man kind with
their solar government subsidies, but I don't think it worked real
well for Germany. Just like the US going into Afghanistan might have
helped some people, but at a big cost to America. Not sure it was
worth it to us, but maybe it was worth it for the Afghan people? Only
time will tell for sure. This global international relations stuff is
hard. Very complicated. Perhaps the most complicated system on earth,
if you include the economics of it all.


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