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Wood, the fuel of preindustrial societies, is half of EU renewable energy

Wood, the fuel of preindustrial societies, is half of EU renewable energy

Source: Ben Adler. Aug 25, 2014. Europe is burning our forests for “renewable” energy. 
Wait, what? grist.org

Preface: By far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood. In its various forms, from sticks to pellets to sawdust, wood (or to use its fashionable name, biomass) accounts for about half of Europe’s renewable-energy consumption.

Although Finland is the most heavily forested country in Europe, with 75% of their land covered in woods, they may not have enough biomass to replace coal when all coal plants are shut down by 2029.  Much of their land has no roads or navigable waterways, so imports would be cheaper than using their own forests (Karagiannopoulos 2019).

Vaclav Smil, in his 2013 book “Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization” states: “Straw continues to be burned even in some affluent countries, most notably in Denmark where about 1.4 Mt of wheat straw (nearly a quarter of the total harvest) is used for house heating or even in centralized district heating and electricity generation.”

There are three articles about wood below. Some other wood energy reports:

2016:  Forests in southern states are disappearing to supply Europe with energy. In the past 60 years, the southern U.S. lost 33 million acres of forests even though biomass is not carbon neutral. Salon

2016: Japan is now turning to burning wood to generate electric power because of fewer nuclear power plants after Fukushima

***

1. The Economist. April 6, 2013. Wood: The fuel of the future. Environmental lunacy in Europe.

Which source of renewable energy is most important to the European Union? Solar power, perhaps? (Europe has three-quarters of the world’s total installed capacity of solar photovoltaic energy.) Or wind? (Germany trebled its wind-power capacity in the past decade.) The answer is neither.

By far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EIA’s Electric Power Monthly – September 2019 Edition with data for July

EIA’s Electric Power Monthly – September 2019 Edition with data for July

chart/
chart/

The EIA released the latest edition of their Electric Power Monthly on September 24th, with data for July 2019. The table above shows the percentage contribution of the main fuel sources to two decimal places for the last two months and the year 2019 to date.

chart/

The Table immediately above shows the absolute amounts of electricity generated in gigawatt-hours by the main sources for the last two months and the year to date. In July the absolute amount of electricity generated increased, as is usual for the month of July when compared to June for the period covered by the charts, January 2013 to date. Coal and Natural Gas between them, fueled 66.92% of US electricity generation in July. The contribution of zero carbon and carbon neutral sources declined from 37.86% in June to 32.25% in July.

The 12,055 GWh generated by Solar in July 2019 is a record, exceeding the previous record of 11,8549 GWh, set in the previous month, June 2019. It is possible that the output from solar in August could exceed the output in July as was the case in 2014 and 2015. While the percentage contribution from solar did not decline between the months of May and June it declined slightly in July 2019 as is customary when the total amount generated ramps up heading into the midsummer peak. The increase in production from solar has not continued to keep pace with the total increase in generation from June to July. However, as solar capacity continues to increase, in future years it can be expected that the contribution from solar will keep pace with the total and eventually increase going into the summer months.

The graph below shows the absolute monthly production from the various sources since January 2013, as well as the total amount generated (right axis).

chart/

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Energy vs DNA

Energy vs DNA

Rembrandt van Rijn Landscape With the Rest on the Flight into Egypt 1647

Hmm, energy. Is it a good idea I be drawn back into the subject? We used to do so much on the topic, Nicole Foss and I, in the first years of The Automatic Earth, and before that at the brilliant Oil Drum, where we had all those equally brilliant oil professionals to guide us on. So why revisit it? Well, for one thing, because a friend asked.

And for another because things -may have – changed over the past 15 years or so. Not that I think the peak oil idea, which is that we reached the peak in 2005 or so, changed. Yeah, unconventional oil, shale, fracking etc., came about, but that has nothing to do with peak oil. Just look at the EROEI (energy return) you get from shale. You go from 100:1 to, if you’re lucky, 5:1. You can’t build a complex society on that.

It’s not an accident that shale oil firms are going broke all over; even ultra low interest rates can’t save them. But all that still doesn’t come close to scratching the surface of our energy -or oil, for that matter.- conundrum.

I’ve never understood what the idea behind the Extinction Rebellion is. Or, you know, that they know what they’re talking about. Do they know the physics?

The general idea, yeah, but not how they aim to reach their goals. Far as I can tell, it’s about less CO2 -and methane, supposedly- emissions, but I don’t get how they want to achieve that. I’ve read some but not all of their theories, and it’s not obvious. It feels like they want less of various things, only to replace them with something else. Like they think once oil is gone, you can put wind and solar in its staid, and off we go. Tell me how wrong I am. Please do.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Major Blaze At Iran Oil Refinery Raises Suspicions Of Saudi Revenge Attack

Major Blaze At Iran Oil Refinery Raises Suspicions Of Saudi Revenge Attack

A section of Iran’s sprawling Abadan oil refinery in the southwest of the country went up in flames Saturday, and state media sources reported the emergency was under control as of Sunday morning. 

State media is describing it as “a fire in a canal carrying waste from Iran’s Abadan oil refinery,” with Iranian official broadcaster IRIB saying, “The refinery’s fire department contained the fire and prevented it from spreading to other units.”


#BREAKING
A fire in a canal carrying waste from #Iran’s #Abadan oil refinery was brought under control on Sunday: State Media


However, given the extent of the blaze captured in social media circulating videos, and especially given it comes after a tense summer of attacks on tanker and refineries — notably the Sept. 14 Saudi Aramco drone and missile attack — the newest Iran facility fire raises serious question. 

Could the clearly massive Abadan blaze, which Iranian state sources appear ready to downplay, be the result of a Saudi revenge attack? 

Though unverified and unconfirmed, Iranian opposition sources are pointing to a potential cyber attack as a possible cause for the fire.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

PG&E May Sporadically Cut Power To Californians For A Decade

PG&E May Sporadically Cut Power To Californians For A Decade

Californians trying to justify living in the Golden State might be updating their pro/con list by occasional candlelight for up to a decade, according to PG&E. 

On Friday, the state’s largest utility announced that intentional power outages aimed at preventing wildfires may continue for up to a decade. 

CEO Bill Johnson later clarified during a Friday meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission, saying “I didn’t mean to say we’d be doing it on this scale for 10 years. I think they’ll decrease in size and scope every year.” 

Any of PG&E’s 5 million electric customers can be affected by the practice known as Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), which cuts electricity to avoid causing fires during high winds and dry conditions.

California Public Utilities Commission said it held the emergency meeting specifically to hear from PG&E’s executives regarding “the mistakes and operational gaps identified in the utility’s latest Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) events and to provide lessons learned to ensure they are not repeated.” –CNN

Last week nearly 800,000 Californians lost power after PG&E shut it off to lower the risk of wildfires caused by the company’s equipment. The outage cost the city of San Jose at least half a million dollars, according to the mayor. 

According to PG&E, however, “dealing with wildfires is the new abnormal within California.” 

The utility faced harsh comments during Friday’s meeting, with Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer saying she was “astonished” at PG&E’s lack of modern technology and services – citing the fact that even their website crashed during the shutdown

“This is not hard,” Batjer told PG&E execs. “You guys have failed on so many levels on pretty simple stuff. You need to get there now. Not at the end of the year. Now.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

Uncertainties following the Abqaiq attack have shrunk the world’s safe oil reserves by around half (part 1)

The world has returned to business as usual after the Saudis assured oil markets that production will be back soon and as oil prices have returned to pre-attack levels and even lower, indicating that oil traders focus on a weak global economic outlook.

Fig 1: Abqaiq’s oil price spike
Fig2: Saudi crude oil production drop after the Abqaiq attack

The peak oil barrel blog monitors OPEC’s oil production and published the above graph for September 2019, using data from OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report. The drop from around 9,800 kb/d to 8,500 kb/d translates into an approximate loss in September of 40 mb Arab Light.  Saudi oil stocks were 180 mb before the attack. Maybe tanks are filled with partially processed oil with a high sulfur content.

Iran’s oil exports

From the IEA Monthly Oil Market Report dated 12/9/2019 (2 days before the Abqaiq attack):

Fig 3: US ended sanction waivers in May 2019
https://www.iea.org/media/omrreports/fullissues/2019-09-12.pdf

The data on Iranian oil exports are fuzzy. On 13 Sep 2019 S&P Global Platts reported 424 kb/d in August (mainly to China and Syria) but warns that Iranian storage is filling up quickly, including 50 mb on tankers (mostly condensate). During the last round of sanctions in 2016 storage reached 55-60 mb.

Fig 4: Iranian oil exports by Platts

 

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/091319-analysis-iran-builds-50-mil-barrel-oil-armada-as-exports-plunge

In July 2019 the Atlantic Council calculated in an article entitled

Iran’s Crude Oil Exports: What Minimum Is Enough to Stay Afloat?

that Iran needs to export 1.5 mb/d to balance the budget and 720 Kb/d as an absolute minimum in survival mode (withdrawals from the National Development Fund, foreign exchange and gold reserves)

Changed balance of power in Middle East

As Iranian oil exports have dropped below these thresholds, attacks have intensified:

12 May:  Fujairah, UAE, 4 tankers damaged in Gulf of Oman by limpet mines

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Warning Signs Are Flashing for U.S. Shale

rig

The Warning Signs Are Flashing for U.S. Shale

U.S. oil production growth has slammed on the breaks, as low prices and the loss of access to capital markets has forced a slowdown in drilling.

Third quarter earnings reports will soon start to trickle in. Three months ago, the shale industry saw improvement in some of the headline cash flow figures, but the second quarter results also revealed some deeper concerns about drilling operations and raised questions about the longevity of an unprofitable oil boom.

The problem for the shale industry is that, if anything, the outlook has only become gloomier since. Oil prices have languished and investors have grown more skeptical.

Ahead of third quarter earnings, some analysts downgraded several prominent shale drillers.

Imperial Capital analyst Irene Haas issued a double downgrade this week to Extraction Oil & Gas, a Colorado shale driller. Imperial Capital cut the company’s outlook to Underperform from Outperform, and lowered its price target to just $2 per share from $7. Extraction saw its share price plunge by 9 percent at one point during trading on Thursday before recovering some losses.

Irene Haas says that Extraction’s production is likely to be flat during the third quarter due to unplanned outages on the Western Gas system. More importantly, Haas says that Extraction’s business model is “fundamentally more risky, compared to other DJ Basin peers.” Haas also raised concerns about Extraction’s near-term fortunes, noting that the company “might not be equipped to weather additional commodity prices downdraft or operational upsets, planned or unplanned.” 

Meanwhile, SunTrust cut Concho Resources to Hold from Buy, pointing to the company’s efforts to rein in “inflated well costs.” The move also comes in the wake of Concho’s high-profile announcement over the summer, in which it admitted that its densely-packed 23-well “Dominator” project produced poor results.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Did Not Go Well” – PG&E’s Rolling Blackout Sparked Chaos In Bay Area

“This Did Not Go Well” – PG&E’s Rolling Blackout Sparked Chaos In Bay Area

Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) historic blackout plunging hundreds of thousands of customers into darkness last week was a massive communication breakdown that sparked criticism over the two-day blackout that was designed to avoid wildfires, reported The New York Times.

PG&E officials said over the weekend that most of the power had been restored to everyone except for 2,500 customers across several Bay Area counties and promised to fix communication channels with customers.

“We’ll get better in the next month and better in the next year,” PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Saturday.

“Communication to customers, coordination with state agencies, website availability, call center staff, that’s where you will see short-term improvements.”

Last Wednesday, PG&E triggered rolling blackouts for nearly 735,000 homes and or businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the threat of strong winds and dry conditions that would’ve damaged transmission wires and sparked dangerous wildfires, similar to what was seen last year. Most of the residents were restored by Friday afternoon, but 99.5% of its customers saw full power by Saturday. 

PG&E Blackouts Spread Across Northern California

The shutdown caused widespread confusion about the planned power outage, and according to some experts, billions of dollars in economic losses were sustained by local businesses during the two-day blackout.

PG&E’s website and communication network that relayed essential data about the blackouts crashed, leaving many without details about what was happening. 

“There were definitely missteps,” said Elizaveta Malashenko, a spokesperson for the state Public Utilities Commission who was in the PG&E control center. “It’s pretty much safe in saying, this did not go well.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar Storms Can Devastate Entire Civilizations

Solar Storms Can Devastate Entire Civilizations

Solar flare

Climate has inarguably become a hot topic of discussion in developed economies over the last decade, and it is getting hotter by the day as study after study warn we are close to doomed if we don’t change our ways urgently. Yet climate on Earth is not the only problem that humankind faces. There is another climate we need to pay attention to, and there is nothing we can do to change that.

Solar storms, whose more scientific name is coronal mass ejections, were until recently believed to be a rare occurrence—only happening once every couple of centuries or so. However, there is reason to believe they may be a lot more frequent than that. In a world increasingly dependent on electricity, this is, to put it mildly, a problem.

In 1859 the Sun spewed concentrated plasma that broke through its magnetic fields in the direction of the Earth. Commonly referred to as the Carrington Event, that coronal mass ejection hit the Earth’s magnetic field, which warped it and caused telegraphs around the world to fail. For a long time, the scientific consensus was that solar storms of this magnitude were a rarity.

That was in the 19th century where telegraphs were cutting-edge tech. Now, we have power grids, airplanes, satellites, and computers, and all of them are potentially susceptible to the effects of another solar storm. We also know that solar storms of the magnitude of the Carrington Event or even worse occur more frequently.

“The Carrington Event was considered to be the worst-case scenario for space weather events against the modern civilization… but if it comes several times a century, we have to reconsider how to prepare against and mitigate that kind of space weather hazard,” the lead research in a study that reached that conclusion, Hisashi Hayakawa, said after the release of the study earlier this month.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

I want to be optimistic about the future. I really do.

But there’s virtually no chance of the world transitioning gently to an alternative energy-powered future.

These Are The ‘Good Old Days’

I’m often asked where I stand on wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

My answer is: I love them. But they’re incapable of enabling our society to smoothly slip over to powering itself by other means.

They’re not going to “save us”.

Some people are convinced otherwise. If we can just fight off the evil oil companies, get our act together, and install a national alternative energy system infrastructure, we’ll be just fine.  Meaning that we”ll be able to continue to live as we do today, but powered fully by clean renewable energy.

That’s just not going to happen. At least, not without a lot of painful disruption and sacrifice.

The top three reasons why are:

  1. Math
  2. Human behavior
  3. Time, scale, & cost

I walk through the detail below. I’m doing so to debunk the magical thinking behind the current “Green Revolution” because I fear it offers a false promise.

Look, I’m a huge fan of renewable energy. And I’m 1,000% in favor of weaning the world off of its toxic addiction to fossil fuels.

But we have to be eyes wide open about our future prospects. Deluding ourselves with “feel good” but unrealistic expectations about green energy will result in the same sort of poor decisions, malinvestment, and crushed dreams as fossil-based system has.

As we constantly repeat here at Peak Prosperity: Energy is everything.  

Without as much available, the future is going to be exceptionally difficult compared to the present. Which is why I call the time we’re living in now The Good Old Days.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Than 50% Of The Mighty Permian’s 2018 Oil Production Has Vaporized

More Than 50% Of The Mighty Permian’s 2018 Oil Production Has Vaporized

As dark clouds gather on the financial horizon, big trouble is brewing in the U.S. Shale Oil Industry.  While most Americans are focused on the Mainstream media’s coverage of the ongoing Washington D.C. circus, the real threat to the domestic economy lies in the country’s oil heartland.  And, if we look at what is taking place in the United States’ largest shale oil region, the signs are troubling.

The Permian Oil Basin in Texas and New Mexico accounts for nearly half (46%) of the total U.S. shale oil production.   According to the data from Shaleprofile.com, Permian’s oil production peaked in May at 3.43 million barrels per day.  Due to the massive decline rate, production in the Permian has stalled this year.

The chart below shows the Permian oil production declining even though more wells continue to be brought online.  Unfortunately, there aren’t enough wells being added to offset the tremendous decline rate.  You will notice how quickly the oil production that was added in 2018 (Light Blue color) has declined in just half a year:

To give you a better idea of the huge decline rate in Permian oil production, let’s only focus on 2018 and 2019 in the following charts.  But, before doing so, I wanted to let everyone know that this information would not be possible without the data from Shaleprofile.com.  I highly recommend that you check out Shaleprofile.com and consider subscribing to the service if you want to be able to access more details in the shale industry.  It’s worth its weight in gold.

Let’s look at the Permian oil production just for 2018.  Permian oil production brought on in 2018 peaked in December at 2,136,000 barrels oil per day (bopd) or 2,136K bopd, and declined to 1,056K bopd by July 2019. That is a STUNNING 50.5% decline in just seven months:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

California Hit By Dual Shock: LA Gas Prices Spike Above $5 As Residents Learn Solar Panels Don’t Work In Blackouts

California Hit By Dual Shock: LA Gas Prices Spike Above $5 As Residents Learn Solar Panels Don’t Work In Blackouts

Millions of Californians may have just suffered an unprecedented, induced blackout by the state’s largest (and bankrupt) utility, PG&E, just so it isn’t blamed for starting even more fires causing it to go even more bankrupt… but at least the price of gas is soaring.

According to Fox5NY, citing figures from AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Los Angeles County was $4.25 on Wednesday, 4.5 cents higher than one week ago, 57.6 cents more than one month ago and 37.1 cents greater than one year ago. It has also risen 86.4 cents since the start of the year. What is more troubling is that as California gas prices reached the highest level in the state since 2015, some Los Angeles area gas stations are charging more than $5 a gallon.

The gas price spike started last month after Saudi Arabia oil production facilities were attacked, and accelerated after three Los Angeles-area refineries slowed or halted production due to maintenance issues and no imported gasoline was available to make up for the shortfall, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.


Only in California…

View image on Twitter

The shortage was made worse after local refineries cut back production of summer-blend gasoline in anticipation of switching to selling the winter blend beginning Nov. 1.

But wait, there’s more: America’s most “environmentally conscious” state got a harsh lesson in electrical engineering when many of the tens of thousands of people hit by this week’s blackout learned the hard way that solar installations don’t keep the lights on during a power outage.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iranian Oil Tanker Struck By 2 Missiles Near Saudi Port

Iranian Oil Tanker Struck By 2 Missiles Near Saudi Port 

Many questions remained unanswered early Friday after an attack on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea sent oil prices higher, in the latest attack on energy-industry infrastructure in an increasingly volatile part of the world. According to the New York Times, a fire erupted on an Iranian oil tanker about 60 miles from the Port of Jeddah on Friday after the tanker’s two major tanks were struck by missiles, causing an oil spill.

No crew members were hurt and the ship is reportedly in stable condition, according to Iranian state news media. The National Iranian Oil Company, which owns the tanker, said the ship was struck at 5 am local time and 5:20 am local time. Iranian officials said Friday that the incident was “an act of terrorism”, but they insisted that the ship had suffered minimal damage and that only a small amount of oil had spilled into the ocean. The Iranians also denied that the ship had caught fire, despite photos purportedly depicting the blaze.


#BREAKING: There is No longer fire & oil leakage in #Iran‘s oil tanker #SABITI. Images taken an hour ago show the oiler in #RedSea after changing its course. There are two possibilities behind the two explosions in the ship: 1-#SaudiArabia‘s attack 2-#Israel Navy attack.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Iranian media said “technical experts” are still investigating the cause of the explosion, though Iranian state media initially blamed Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom, meanwhile, denied any responsibility for the attack. However, according to conflicting reports, the National Iranian Oil Company denied that Saudi Arabia, Iran’s archrival in the region, was behind the attack, and instead pointed the finger toward Israel.

Another inconsistency emerged when Iran said a tanker known as the Sabiti had been hit. But the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic shows the vessel hasn’t transmitted any location data since mid-August.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“This Is The Third World”: Up To 3 Million Californians To Lose Power As PG&E Begins “Unprecedented” Blackouts

“This Is The Third World”: Up To 3 Million Californians To Lose Power As PG&E Begins “Unprecedented” Blackouts

As previewed last night, PG&E Corp., California’s largest (bankrupt) utility, began shutting off power Wednesday to an unprecedented 3 million people in Northern California in the face of hot, windy weather that raises the risk of wildfires. While the high winds are forecast to subside by late Thursday, the company will undertake extensive inspections of its equipment before turning electricity back on, meaning outages could persist into next week. More than 3 million people may be eventually affected, based on city estimates and the average household size. The economic impact may reach $2.6 billion.

Half a million homes and businesses in Northern California have already lost power as PG&E orchestrates the biggest-ever intentional power shutoff to keep its lines from sparking blazes. The company was scheduled to shut service to another 234,000 customers in cities including Berkeley and Oakland at noon local time, but told city and county officials that those cutoffs will instead start Wednesday evening. Strong, dry winds that heighten the risk of wildfires are picking up later than forecast, the company said.

PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center in San Francisco 

According to Bloomberg, never before have California utilities intentionally cut power to so many people for their own safety – and never has a shutoff affected such major metropolitan areas, even as the city of San Francisco and Silicon Valley appear spared. The undertaking is key to fairly new strategy by PG&E for preventing power lines from sparking another deadly – and costly – conflagration.

“This is unprecedented in terms of what all of us are facing as a community,” PG&E Vice President Sumeet Singh said at a media briefing Tuesday night. “We are doing everything we can to minimize the impact on our customers’ lives.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Capital Flight Is Killing The US Shale Boom

Capital Flight Is Killing The US Shale Boom

Capital Flight

The growth in U.S. shale production is grinding to a halt as low prices put drillers in a financial vice.

The slowdown has been unfolding for much of 2019, but the latest slide in oil prices is another blow to cash-strapped companies. Share prices for many E&Ps are down sharply. For instance, Devon Energy’s stock is down 20 percent since mid-September; EOG Resources is off by 17 percent and Pioneer Natural Resources is down by more than 13 percent. Many other companies have seen similar declines.

Rig counts have fallen by 20 percent since last year, drilling is down, hotel rates are down, and employment is in decline. “If you can’t wring out any costs savings then you’ve got to buy less stuff if you want to get your costs down, and that’s the phase we’re entering into,” Jesse Thompson, senior business economist at the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told Bloomberg.

As Bloomberg noted, annualized employment grew only 0.7 percent through August, compared to 11.4 percent for the same period in 2018. The unemployment rate has ticked up from 2 to 2.3 percent. The number of fracking crews has fallen to its lowest level in 30 months.

For embattled shale drillers, there is another imminent hurdle that they must clear. For the first time since 2016, Permian shale drillers could see their access to borrowing slashed. Lenders periodically reassess the borrowing base that they offer to oil and gas producers, a so-called “credit redetermination” period.

According to a survey of financial institutions as well as oil and gas firms by law firm Haynes and Boone, the industry is set to see “a decrease in credit availability for producers and a strong interest in alternative sources of capital.”

In other words, lenders are turning off the spigots.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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