Thursday, July 30, 2009


The EV Juice Bar (aka John Wayland’s house)

The Wayland Invitational IV: recharging at the EV Juice Bar before heading to the track Saturday July 25th.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Logisystem's Contoller is here!!!

Tesla Roadster Sport NEDRA record 12.643 at 1/4 mile

Wayland Invitational IV Scotty Pollacheck, the rider for the Killacycle, had some free time late Saturday evening and was driving the yellow Tesla that DaveD owns (181). He did 13.000 seconds with a Tesla Roadster 2008 that was not fully charged. So I offered Scotty Pollacheck my new 2010 Tesla Roadster Sport (553) with about [...]

Tesla Roadster Sport 553 versus another Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster Sport 553 versus another Tesla Roadster Here is the video of me driving the Roadster Sport 553 (right lane) vs another Tesla. My personal best was 12.82 seconds. I was just doing a regular acceleration without holding the brake and loading the acceleration pedal. I tried that once and got a horrible time, [...]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Could $20-Per-Gallon Gasoline Make Us Happier?

NPRListen – mp3When it's time to fill up the gas tank, many fear the price of gas will return to the $4-a-gallon days of last summer. But according to author Chris Steiner, our lives would be a lot happier and healthier if gas prices rose into the double digits. Steiner explains himself, and the title of his book: $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the ReviewImagine an everyday world in which the price of gasoline (and oil) continues to go up, and up, and up. Think about the immediate impact that would have on our lives. Of course, everybody already knows how about gasoline has affected our driving habits. People can't wait to junk their gas-guzzling SUVs for a new Prius. But there are more, not-so-obvious changes on the horizon that Chris Steiner tracks brilliantly in this provocative work. Consider the following societal changes: people who own homes in far-off suburbs will soon realize that there's no longer any market for their houses (reason: nobody wants to live too far away because it's too expensive to commute to work). Telecommuting will begin to expand rapidly. Trains will become the mode of national transportation (as it used to be) as the price of flying becomes prohibitive. Families will begin to migrate southward as the price of heating northern homes in the winter is too pricey. Cheap everyday items that are comprised of plastic will go away because of the rising price to produce them (plastic is derived from oil). And this is just the beginning of a huge and overwhelming domino effect that our way of life will undergo in the years to come. Steiner, an engineer by training before turning to journalism, sees how this simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will totally re-structure our lifestyle. But what may be surprising to readers is that all of these changes may not be negative--but actually will usher in some new and very promising aspects of our society. Steiner will probe how the liberation of technology and innovation, triggered by climbing gas prices, will change our lives. The book may start as an alarmist's exercise.... but don't be misled. The future will be exhilarating. ReviewQ&A with Christoper Steiner, the author of $20 per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the BetterSteiner, an engineer-turn-journalist, explains how the simple but constant rise in oil and gas prices will change our lifestyle, but not necessarily for the worse. Read this Q&A to find out more about this revolutionary theory. Gas prices are going up again this summer, but are you really suggesting prices might rise to $20 a gallon? That figure lies far ahead in the future; it's hardly an imminent thing. But most people don't require much convincing to know that $2 gas isn't sustainable for the long term. Oil is a finite resource that the whole world demands--a world that grows more gasoline consumers every day. It's important to understand that this book isn't about oil statistics, it's about our lives and the ways in which we live will change.What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book? Readers should gain an appreciation for the kind of change that lies behind the growing price of gas. Weaning ourselves from gasoline isn't a scary thing, it's an exciting thing. We're talking about cleaner environments, more walkable lives, better public transportation and more vibrant cities.What are some of the surprising ways you think rising gas prices will change our everyday lives? I don't think people realize how close our airline industry is to an all-out collapse. The book details a massive airline extinction at $8 per gallon, and in fact, serious change could take place even before then. It's certainly not something that should be celebrated, but the collapse of that industry will open the door to new ones, such as widespread high-speed trains in America, a phenomenon that won't take serious root until plane tickets become luxuries rather than conveniences. Beyond the airlines, I think people might be surprised to think that their future may not include Wal-Mart, and that their food world may condense, ruling out things such as sushi, but introducing things such as local organic fruit, vegetables and meat. Is this pure speculation and fantasy or what kind of research did you do? I consulted experts in a bevy of industries throughout the whole book, so this is not a random exercise, far from it. That said, it can be hard to forecast exactly at what gas price each change will happen. There are many unforeseen factors that can accelerate or forestall a certain change, such as government involvement in building high-speed train networks. If the government funds trains aggressively, change will be effected quicker, obviously. But I do feel that all of the changes represented in the book will happen eventually, whether they take place at gas prices of $10 per gallon or $12 per gallon.So how scared should we be of the changes to come? There is little to be scared of. The rising price of gas will unlock countless doors to innovation, opportunity and change.Why does your book's subtitle say rising gas prices will change our lives "for the better"? How so? We've grown used to engorging ourselves on the back of cheap oil and it has lead to all manners of problems. As the price of gas goes up, we'll live closer to work, school, eat healthier foods and even be skinnier and safer. The book profiles research that connects cheap oil to America's obesity rate and to the daunting numbers of people that die on our roadways. As the price of gas goes up to, say, $6, we'll save more than $30 billion on obesity-related diseases, 10,000 fewer people will die in car crashes and thousands of people will be spared heart attack deaths related to air pollution. Those kinds of effects will only be magnified as the price of gas rises further. And that's just a sampling of the benefits.In what ways will rising gas prices improve our economy and job market? America has lost much of its manufacturing mojo during the last 20 years. A green revolution, fueled by a search for alternative energies and technologies, could change that. Not only will there be need to produce things such as solar panels, electric cars, and new city infrastructure, but the power of globalization will be blunted by higher gasoline prices. The advantages of, say, making a computer in China decrease as the cost of fuel increases and the cost of transporting things all over the earth rises-that will lead to manufacturing jobs returning here, to home soil.In what ways will the rising cost of gasoline boost innovation? The innovation game is one that many people anticipate as oil's grip on the world ebbs. New technologies will be needed in all arenas that oil touches, including cars, trains, our homes, the plastic we use and the roads we drive on-and those are just a few examples. The opportunities for inventors in a world with less oil will be prolific.What kind of places did you visit for your research and why was it necessary to visit them? Good books need good stories, and it's hard to tell a good story from just talking to people over the phone, so I got out there and did things. I worked on an electric UPS truck in Manhattan for a day; I spent some time on a fishing boat hauling in Asian carp; I descended into one of New York's new train tunnels currently under construction; I rode our nation's fastest train to meet the Amtrak CEO in Washington. I'm not anointing my book or my stories as good--that's up to the reader--but creating an enriching storyline within a nonfiction book was my goal, so I'm hopeful I did that.So now that we know this, what should we do in the here and now? Preparing for the future isn't about buying the latest gadgets or the car with the best mileage. Those things help, of course, but they're mere pings in a coming cacophony. People who will do the least amount of adjusting in the future are those who already live more sustainable lives. Where you live largely determines how you live. Buying solar panels for a house at the far edge of the suburbs, for instance, won't alter how the future affects you. Moving to a walkable neighborhood where groceries, your kids' schools, your office or a train are all within several blocks-that's a change you'll profit from and a place where the future will be kinder.

Our story makes the paper

Monday, July 20, 2009

ElectricCarExaminer: Incredible Mercedes electric gull wing

An electric Mercedes gull wing?  Why not. Photo from NY Times. Rumors that Mercedes was working on an electric gull wing was intriguing but having it confirmed is even better. The gist is that we have been looking forward to seeing what Merced...

PickensPlan: Pickens Plan Media Coverage 7.18.09-7.20.09

One Year Later: Pickens Plan Impacts Energy DebateFort Worth Business Press – 7/20/09
Anchor Away: Charlie Gibson’s Pumped about ‘Over a Barrel’ Oil SpecialNew York Daily News – 7/20/09
Energy Companies Turning to Natural Gas Vehicles Denver Business Journal – 7/19/09
Is Hydrogen the Best of the Green Fuels?Seeking Alpha – 7/20/09

Gas2: Green Diva’s Eco-Ride - Lexus 250h Test Drive

PlugsCars: Toyota whines about Ontario plug-in rebates

Toyota has a go-slow policy on plug-in electrics. Despite having produced the RAV4 EV - the most useful, robust, and long-lived electric car - Toyota wants to milk its non-grid connected hybrid technology as long as possible before moving on to the next big thing. Ontario has announced a $10,000 rebate for plug-in electrics, and Toyota wouldn't benefit as they delay general release of their own plug-ins. Crying foul, they claim the rebate is back-door support for GM's Volt. Of course, Nissan and Mitsubishi, which have announced plug-in electric cars, will also be able to take advantage. Toyota was all for policies that benefited its hybrids in California to the exclusion of most other car companies when they got the California legislature to limit HOV access to hybrids that achieve 45 mpg.Toyota should stop whining and delaying. Were it to release a plug-in hybrid or electric car, it too could benefit from the forward-looking policies Ontario has enacted.[Source: Leader-Post]

New Update!

This has been a crazy spring! There are many exciting things going on at Green Wheelin Scooters. Let's start with new staff. We have added 3 new part time people since I last wrote, including Mike Perez (see picture). Mike will be heading up our modifications department! Mike has an expansive knowledge of scooter modifications and has been involved in racing as well. We look forward to the changes that Mike's skill will allow us to make in our line up and who knows, we may even be able to start a racing team!

In addition to personnel, we have added to our line up of products. We now carry Razor brand scooters and bikes, and have expanded our line of Thompson e-bikes! If you haven't been to the store in a while, you need to get down here! If you sign up to follow this blog, we will give you 20% off on any accessory purchase too! Thanks for following and we will see you soon!

OnElectricCars: Tesla Model S Pics Leaked Moments Before Debut!

Digg founder Kevin Rose has evidently uploaded full shots of the Tesla Model S to his flickr account moments before Tesla was going to unveil the car later today. Thanks to the $7,500 federal tax credit you can own this electric sport sedan for under $50,000.  And I must say, early rumors were true, [...]

OnElectricCars: Full Details on Telsa Model S

Jalopnik has a great article on the Tesla Model S unveiling today. They also took several photos of the electric family sedan at the event. These are the most current car specs as well as production and release dates:
Via Jalopnik:
Tesla claims the Model S sedan will be produced at a rate of 20,000 [...]

OnElectricCars: Video of Tesla Model S Unveiling and More

Edmunds Inside Line recently posted this neat video on Youtube. Not only do you get to see Tesla Motors finally pull the sheet off this gorgeous ride, but there is also some footage of the 7-passenger sedan in action on the road.

OnElectricCars: Update on Velozzi

Most people are aware that Velozzi is a promising participant in the Progressive Automotive X Prize. The team intends to enter two vehicles, the Velozzi and the Velozzi X1.  Both will be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can use multiple fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel, and traditional gasoline. The Velozzi is pictured above, but  the [...]

OnElectricCars: Update on BG Automotive

Here’s a quick update on the progress of the American electric vehicle manufacturer, BG Automotive.
BG Automotive Newsletter:
February, 2009
Stimulus package includes a 10% tax credit for purchases of the BG C100.
Please check web site for additional state incentives.

March, 2009
BG announces the introduction of high speed/highway “all electric” vehicle powered [...]

OnElectricCars: needs Writers

I would like On Electric Cars to go “open source”, in a sense.  So if you are passionate about EV’s and blogging, writing for us is a great opportunity to get experience and to join the conversation on the next generation of transportation. This is on a volunteer basis for now, but if the [...]

OnElectricCars: On the Fisker Karma Sunset

The Fisker Karma Sunset is not only a convertible adaptation of the 2011 Fisker Karma, but will also claim the honor of being called the world’s first hybrid convertible. The Sunset will have a folding hardtop, be capable of 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and have a 125 MPH top speed, all while being a serial [...]

OnElectricCars: Tesla Motors to Receive $465 Million Loan from the Government

DoE giving boost to start-up electric car company
Posted 25 Jun 2009 10:25AM by Bill King
Tesla Motors will receive one of the first loans from the U.S. Department of Energy’s $25 billion automakers’ assistance program. The Silicon Valley electric car builder will use the funds to complete development of its Model S sedan and electric [...]

OnElectricCars:’s Sweet Model S Video Preview has produced a very informative and stylish video preview of the Tesla Model S. It is split into three parts: Design, Pure Electric, and Showtime.
Part 1: Design

Franz Von Holzhouzen, Chief Designer of the Model S Project, and Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, provide an in-depth description of how the electric drive train [...]

OnElectricCars: Figure Hybrid Insurance Discounts into Overall Cost of Ownership

Statistics compiled earlier in 2009 suggest that 62% of consumers contemplating a car purchase either consider or are committed to buying some kind of hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle. Confusion exists, however, on the question of the expenses involved in insuring a hybrid vehicle. In calculating the actual cost [...]

Gas2: Mercedes-Benz Confirms 526 HP Fully Electric Gullwing

ElectricCarsIreland: Can 50cc Scooters Save You Time and Money?

by Donald Mihajlov
The economy has everyone in a position to look for ways to save money. Well this is one time that you can save money by spending money. Go out and look at some 50cc scooters and after you spend that small upfront investment, you are going to be amazed at how much extra cash is in your bank account.
As the cost of gas goes up, filling that monster that you drive around in is costing you a small fortune. Figuring that the average car gets about 20-25 MPG, you could be filling up your tank as many as 3 or 4 times a week. At $50 or more a fill, it gets pretty pricey. Wouldn’t you rather fill up your ride once a week and only spend about $15 to do so? With a 50cc scooter, you are going to get anywhere from 80-100 MPG and that means a lot less money being spent at the pump.
Parking in the city is never an easy chore. It can even be a problem when you are running out to the grocery store. Make a life a little easier on yourself and do these tasks with a 50cc scooter. You can park just about anywhere with them. No more driving around the lot for hours waiting for someone else to pull out. You can be in the front row anytime you like!
Traffic jams are another reason that you may want to consider a scooter. When everyone else is stacked up, you have plenty of space to get by and can get to where you are going in half the time it would have taken you in your car. That scooter is starting to look pretty good right now isn’t it?
While these are some of the reasons, there are plenty of other ones as well. Think about the lower insurance rate that you are going to have to pay and how about the time that you will save because of some of the things we mentioned above. Lose your frustrations and save a few bucks in the process by merely traveling around the city on a 50cc scooter.

About the Author:
Steven M. Mihajlov is a writer and a scooter enthusiast. He loves scooters because they are fun and they assist Americans in dealing with the economic crisis. To Find Fast Electric Scooters or Cheap 50cc Moped Scooters, visit


CNET: AlertMe to trial home energy management in U.K.

OilDrum: Peak Oil Overview - July 2009

Most people who have read a little about peak oil have heard that US oil production peaked in 1970. This happened, even though oil companies have been working as hard as they can to keep production up. Oil companies have even applied enhanced oil recovery techniques to wells where it looked like doing so would be profitable. After the US mainland (48 states) peaked in 1970, extra effort was expended to ramp up Alaskan production. It soon peaked as well, in 1988.

Figure 1 - US Oil Production, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.
The question now is with respect to world production. The price of oil isn't very high--is there any possibility of a near-term peak in world oil production? Lower prices would seem to suggest there is no problem.
It seems to me that if we look closely at the situation, world oil production has likely peaked, even though prices are not behaving as most had expected. Furthermore, the peaking of world oil production seems to be a major cause of the current financial crisis. The tie of peak oil to recent demand destruction points to a possible continuing destruction in demand in the years ahead, with oil prices fluctuating, but not necessarily rising to great heights.
1. Where are we now with respect to world peak oil?
There is considerable evidence that we may already be somewhat past the peak in world oil production.

Figure 2 - World Oil Production, separated between Organization of Oil Producing Countries (OPEC), Former Soviet Union (FSU), and others based British Petroleum Statistical Data (BP)
Figure 2 indicates that world oil production was rising up until 2005, but then leveled out in the 2005 to 2008 period, at a little over 80 million barrels a day of oil production. If we divide up world production into three components--Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countires (OPEC), Former Soviet Union (FSU) and All Other, the three groups act quite differently.
OPEC production bounces around, as production is raised and lowered because of planned production changes, wars, over-production and need to rest fields, depletion, and response to market conditions.
FSU production reached a peak prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990. It is currently at a new lower maximum (still rising, but not quickly), with the application of new technology and additional investment.
Oil production for the big group of All Other countries (shown in blue on Figure 2) is characterized by more steady investment. When one considers the steady investment, production for this group has almost certainly peaked. This group would include US, Canada, the North Sea, Mexico, China, and many smaller oil producers not in OPEC or the FSU.
The peak for this group occurred in 2002, with a plateau occurring more or less in the 2000 to 2004 period. Once this group started declining, there wasn't enough of a production increase elsewhere (FSU and OPEC) to bring total production up. One could argue that this was just because FSU and OPEC chose not to increase production more, but there seems to be more to the situation than this.
2. What makes you think that world oil production has peaked? Figure 2 just shows that it has been flat recently.
There are several things:
a. Recent drop in world oil production. In 2009, there has been a drop in oil production, that doesn't show up in the annual data in Figure 2.

Figure 3 - World Oil Production, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration and British Petroleum (BP). *2009 is January - April
There are a number of sources of oil production data. Figure 3 compares three measures of oil production, two of them from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the official US source of data.
The EIA now reports a broad measure of oil production called "all liquids". It includes everything from crude oil, to natural gas liquids, to refinery gain, to ethanol. The problem with this measure is most of the "other liquids" are lower in energy content than crude oil. They have been growing by volume in recent years. I have attempted to correct for the lower energy content by showing a line called crude + 65% x "other liquids".
One can see that with each of these measures, oil production is clearly down in 2009. In fact, since oil production was close to flat between 2005 and 2008, with the drop, production for 2009 year-to-date is at or below the level of 2004 production. Since population is rising, and the number of vehicles in use is rising, this is truly alarming.
b. Strange behavior in oil prices in the 2003 to 2009 period. One would expect oil prices to rise with the general inflation rate, but instead prices rose much faster than inflation in the 2003 to 2008 period. Then, a sudden break came, and oil prices dropped from $147 barrel to $30 barrel in the second half of 2008. Oil prices have since risen to above $60 barrel. (The graph shows only annual data, so you cannot see this detail.)

Figure 4 - World crude and condensate oil production, based on **EIA crude and condensate oil production data and ***EIA West Texas Intermediate spot prices. *2009 oil production is average January - April; prices are average January - June
The long rise in the price of oil between 2003 and 2008 seems to indicate production of oil was not rising as much as was needed by the economy and the growing number of vehicles. Oil prices were rising to encourage increased production.
According to economic theory, higher oil prices should have lead to higher oil production (or substitutes-but the impact of biofuels is small, and included in "All liquids" in Figure 3), but this did not happen, suggesting that it really was not possible to ramp up production as much as the economy needed. Even if some of the price rise at the end may have been speculation, the price rise still did not result in much of an increase in production.
It should be noted that the rise in energy prices started right after the production of the "All Other" group in Figure 2 began to decline. It was at this point that a real increase in production was needed from OPEC or FSU to offset the drop in oil production from Mexico and the North Sea. While there was some increase in production, it was not enough of an increase to keep oil prices steady. Instead oil prices keep rising. In response, per capita vehicle miles traveled declined starting in 2005, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

Figure 5 - Brookings Institution comparison of Gasoline Prices and US Per Capita Vehicle Miles Traveled from this study.
In the 2004 to 2006 period, the Fed, it its minutes, expressed concern about rising oil prices, and raised interest rates because it felt the economy must be overheating, if such inflationary effects were occurring. The combination of higher oil prices, higher food prices (caused by higher oil prices) and the higher interest rates set by the Fed in response to higher oil prices had a braking effect on the economy. People's discretionary income dropped. Housing prices began to drop, especially in the more distant suburbs, as people could afford less. People began defaulting on loans, and the financial condition of banks became worse and worse. Still, through all of this, oil prices continued to rise.
Finally, in July 2008, a break came. The economy could no longer tolerate the high oil price. Instead of rising higher, other changes started occurring, affecting the economy as a whole. Banks began cutting back on lending. This cut-back in lending, as much as anything else, caused demand for all kinds of products to drop, since without more loans, people couldn't buy automobiles and all of the other things they wanted, and without loans, businesses couldn't fund new investments.
Once the break in oil prices occurred, oil companies began delaying their plans for increased production, especially in high cost places like the Oil Sands in Canada, where it would not be possible to produce oil and make a profit at the new lower prices. The cutback in lending also affected some of the oil companies, forcing them to limit investments to what could be financed through cash flow from current production. Since prices were low, cash flow was low, further reducing investible funds. Production from existing wells continues to decline, and new investment is needed to offset this decline. With the current lower investment, though, the amount of new investment is almost certainly inadequate, so future oil production is very likely to drop.
It should also be noted that an econometric study by James Hamilton of the University of California at San Diego shows a link between oil prices and the current recession:
Whereas historical oil price shocks were primarily caused by physical disruptions of supply, the price run-up of 2007-08 was caused by strong demand confronting stagnating world production. Although the causes were different, the consequences for the economy appear to have been very similar to those observed in earlier episodes, with significant effects on overall consumption spending and purchases of domestic automobiles in particular. In the absence of those declines, it is unlikely that we would have characterized the period 2007:Q4 to 2008:Q3 as one of economic recession for the U.S.
If there is a single day for peak oil, it would be the day the price break took place. This was July 11, 2008.
c. Forecasts by Tony Eriksen ("ace") based on megaprojects data show declining future oil production.

Figure 5 -World Oil Production to 2012 as forecast by Tony Eriksen ("ace") in May 2009. Oil includes crude oil, lease condensate and oil sands.
Tony and others have put together a database of planned investments in oil fields called the megaprojects database on Wikipedia. This database includes all known capacity additions of 100,000 barrels a day or more, and is constantly updated. With the drop in oil prices, more and more projects have been pushed off to future dates. At the same time, existing fields continue to deplete.
Prior to the recent drop in prices, it seemed likely that production could continue to rise, at least for a few more years. Now with lower prices, enough projects have been delayed that based on Tony's analysis, oil decline can be expected for the next several years.
d. OPEC wells are for the most part very old. Decline can be expected in the not-too-distant future.
We really have very poor information about OPEC's true oil production capability. Several of the OPEC countries have published very high reserve estimates, but these amounts are not audited, and there is serious doubt that the actual amounts are as high as they claim. Also, we don't know how fast the oil can be extracted. We don't know if these high reserves mean they actually have enough to maintain, or increase, their current production levels. The reserves could also be consistent with a near-term drop in production, and a continuing dribble for hundreds of years.

Figure 6 - OPEC oil reserves, by backdated to year. Summarized by author, using 2005 ASPO database and current list of OPEC members.
Figure 6 shows that most of OPEC oil reserves relate to fields that were discovered more than 40 year ago. In fact, some were discovered more than 60 years ago.
The problem is that at some point, oil fields become depleted. Instead of being able to pump a constant or rising amount of oil out, production begins to drop rapidly, even with rising investment. In the United States, that drop in production occurred in 1970 (see Figure 1), about 40 years after production from its major oil fields began. In the North Sea, the time frame was shorter--about 28 years between initial production and the time when it became virtually impossible to maintain the prior level of production.
Several of the OPEC countries have not been pumping at maximum capacity for the full time and initial reserves seem to be quite large, so the time until terminal decline starts playing a major role is likely longer--but could be very soon.
We know that Saudi Arabia is using aggressive techniques to maintain it production. But at some point, these techniques are likely to stop working, and production may drop by as much as 3 million barrels a day quite quickly. We have heard reports that Saudi Arabia is "resting" 1.5 million barrels a day of production from its largest field, Ghawar. This may--or may not--indicate a problem in maintaining production in the field. If Ghawar (with at one point, 5 million barrels a day of production) should start declining rapidly, this would be a problem.
e. The FSU does not look like it can play a major role in offsetting declines elsewhere.
Russia represents the largest part of the FSU. Its production seems to have recently started declining. Investment available for further development is limited by the lower oil prices, so Russia's production is likely to continue to decline. The production of the other countries in the FSU are relatively small. Their production may be able to offset Russia's decline for a few years, but are unlikely to add enough to offset much of the "All Other" decline in Figure 2. As a result, the vast majority of the decline in the "All Other" category will need to be made up by OPEC.
3. Can't OPEC adjust prices so that they are just right--high enough to keep production rising, and low enough so the world economy will not go into shock?
There are a couple of problems with adjusting prices. The first is that it is not all that clear that OPEC has that much control over price. Most members would prefer to produce "flat out", so it is difficult for OPEC to reduce production by very much, from their maximum available production. While we are often told that there is "x million barrels a day" in spare capacity, we have no way of verifying that that is in fact the case. So if production is down, we don't know if that is because of an intended cutback, or if it is because there are other issues (for Venezuela, inability to pay creditors; for Saudi Arabia, need to rest wells).
Apart from the difficulty in controlling the price, the real problem is that there really is no "sweet spot" where oil prices are high enough to encourage adequate production, but low enough to keep the world economy running. The US Fed found that even when oil prices increased from $30 barrel to $40 barrel back in 2004, this had inflationary effects on the economy, which they felt were necessary to control.
Clearly a much higher price than $40 barrel is needed to encourage production. We don't know exactly what that price is, but this graph gives an indication of the range in production costs:

Figure 7 - CERA estimates of full costs of oil production, from a Horizon oil presentation. The CERA graph was put together when oil was about $90 barrel. The dotted line seems to indicate the highest cost types of production that would be profitable at the $90 barrel price.
In order to get oil production to rise, we need new oil production from even the most expensive sources, including new deep water production and oil sands production. This means we likely need oil prices of something like $100 barrel. The world economy cannot support such high oil prices, without people defaulting on their loans, banks getting into serious financial difficulty, and the whole financial system crashing.
4. Where can oil prices and production be expected to go from here?
Opinions differ on this, but my view is that I don't expect oil prices to go radically higher. Instead, I expect that oil prices will continue to fluctuate, and the economy to continue to collapse. Thus, what we will see will look more like collapsing demand than collapsing supply.
In my view, the underlying problem is the fact that the current level of debt (by individuals, businesses, and governments) cannot be maintained, unless we have a growing economy. The reason we need a growing economy for the debt system to work is the fact that a person can borrow from tomorrow, only if tomorrow is better than today. (This is especially the case if loans require the payment of interest.) But if tomorrow is worse than today, borrowing from the future doesn't work. Even if tomorrow is the same as today, the system doesn't work, if loans need to be paid back with interest.
The problem is that the economy cannot grow unless oil production is truly rising. This lack of growth in world oil production since 2005 is what is causing the debt collapse we are now seeing. This debt collapse is in turn giving rise to the demand destruction we are seeing currently. Since oil production cannot rise in the future, it seems to me that we are going to see a continuing unwind of the credit bubble that was made possible by rising oil production. Without credit, people will be unable to buy cars and houses. Businesses will be unable to finance new investment, and we will see greater and greater demand destruction.
The result will be oil prices dropping, more and more people unemployed, and fewer goods and services purchased. In short, the whole system will unwind from the demand side. At some point, there may be a major break, if the international financial system cannot stand the strain. There may also be political upheaval, both in oil producing countries (because the price is too low) and in oil consuming nations (because more and more people are out of work). The results are likely not to be very nice.

OilDrum: DrumBeat: July 20, 2009

Game changers spell end for old petroleum age
Every few years, the engineers toiling to supply energy to the world achieve advances that qualify as game changers. But often, the breakthroughs go unnoticed.

That may be because energy companies hate to broadcast details of their cutting-edge technology to rival firms. Or the key improvements may be too subtle to impress outsiders.

It is only years later that their profound impact on energy supplies and patterns of use become clear.

Peter Tertzakian: Uncertainty good for oil market?
Oil markets are still in a tug-of-war. Pulling one way on the rope, with thumbs down (if that’s physically possible), are the bears arguing that oil will yet meet with $20/B. Pundits pulling with thumbs up suggest between $80/B and $100/B by year-end.

Passive observers and confused investors who haven’t decided which team to back are excused from feeling disconcerted by the divergent views. The lack of consensus these days implies that nobody knows what’s going on with oil markets. However, the discord is arguably healthy and could serve to maintain a stable market in the $60/B to $90/B range for quite a while, which is in the interests of all.

Goodnight, moon travel
Humanity has only two paths forward. We voluntarily switch to a low-carbon economy over the next two decades, or the reality of catastrophic climate change and peak oil forces us to desperately start doing so by the end of the 2020s. The only difference between the two paths is that the first one spares our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, untold misery. It creates a sustainable future where activities like manned space travel can be contemplated again.

The Apollo program was a major science and engineering effort to develop and, most important, deploy a variety of technologies to achieve a very difficult mission -- like climate action. But the comparison between the two only goes so far.

Peer to Peer Economies
There are two possible ways that this scenario could be derailed. The first is that failure by the Obama administration to structurally reform the system and break the power of the predatory financial caste so impoverishes the possibilities of the state that no means are left for implementing social policies, leading to global dislocation, and a turning by humanity towards resilient communities, using p2p-inspired models on a local scale. The second potential derailment refers to the combined effects of the structural problems of capitalism as a system, and not just to its long cycles. In this scenario, the accelerating problems involved in climate change, peak oil and resource depletion become too severe and do not allow for the generation of a new expansion phase. This element alone, which can be combined with the first one, would also lead to global dislocation, and to the resilient communities scenario, involving a ‘low road' to peer to peer, in a context of immense social pain.

The rebirth of Slow Food UK
Slow Food UK's recent rebirth is as practical as it is ideological. Practically speaking, its new headquarters, moved from hard-to-reach Ludlow into central London's Covent Garden early this year will help raise its public profile, and enable it to better reach out to the media, government and other food policy makers, ‘none of whom had heard of Slow Food,' says Catherine, a forthright American formerly with the United Nations.

Ideologically, Slow Food UK needs a strategy to make it appeal, ‘to the truck driver as much as to the landed gentry,' Catherine says, ‘I want to see the same thing that's happened in Italy happen here.'

The end is near
IT USED TO BE that apocalyptic warnings about the approaching end of time came from sign-holding religious nutcases. Now they come from hard scientists. Most discussion of the threat of global warming is conducted in measured tones, with even dire projections offered with the necessary proviso that the future is uncertain. But as governments fail to act strenuously enough against the villainous carbon emissions, and as the broad public continues in a state of environmental quietude, if not indifference, scientific voices are sharpening the alarm.

Steve LeVine: Exxon, the Chase for Reserves, and the Oil Sands
Talking to corporate analysts over the several years that I've been back in the U.S. and covering oil, a recurring question I hear is how Exxon manages year after year without exception -- unlike its Big Oil rivals -- to replenish its cache of proven oil and natural gas reserves. That's what the company has reported in its news releases and annual reports for the last nine years -- an unbroken trajectory of replacing more than 100% of the oil and natural gas that it pumps out of the ground.

The answer is that it hasn't done so, not at least according to the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which governs such matters.

Commentary: Interview with Marshall Adkins
Marshall Adkins is the Houston-based Managing Director of Energy Research for Raymond James & Associates, a full-service investment firm. ASPO-USA’s Steve Andrews caught up with him last week to follow up on his pivotal May 4, 2009 “Energy Stat of the Week”--Peak Oil in the Rearview Mirror: Why We Think Global Oil Production Peaked Over a Year Ago.”

Andrews: At our conference in Houston in October 2007, you responded to our question “when will world oil peak” by saying “between now and 2012.” Clearly you saw this coming. So it appears to have happened.

Adkins: It’s still a tad early to be certain, but if you include natural gas liquids--and some people will argue that that’s not crude--our numbers show that the peak was in 2008.

A Preliminary Investigation of Energy Return on Energy Investment for Global Oil and Gas Production
Economies are fueled by energy produced in excess of the amount required to drive the energy production process. Therefore any successful society’s energy resources must be both abundant and exploitable with a high ratio of energy return on energy invested (EROI). Unfortunately most of the data kept on costs of oil and gas operations are in monetary, not energy, terms. Fortunately we can convert monetary values into approximate energy values by deriving energy intensities for monetary transactions from those few nations that keep both sets of data. We provide a preliminary assessment of EROI for the world’s most important fuels, oil and gas, based on time series of global production and estimates of energy inputs derived from monetary expenditures for all publicly traded oil and gas companies and estimates of energy intensities of those expenditures. We estimate that EROI at the wellhead was roughly 26:1 in 1992, increased to 35:1 in 1999, and then decreased to 18:1 in 2006. These trends imply that global supplies of petroleum available to do economic work are considerably less than estimates of gross reserves and that EROI is declining over time and with increased annual drilling levels. Our global estimates of EROI have a pattern similar to, but somewhat higher than, the United States, which has better data on energy costs but a more depleted resource base.

The Consequences of Government Intrusion into Prices
Where price is especially sensitive is in the realm of essentials, such as food and fuel. If there's a shortage of an essential, its price immediately soars -- unless the government intrudes. Government can stop upward spirals in the price of essentials with price controls and price gouging laws. But such measures can cause supply to run out even sooner or drive sales underground.

Iran's envoy rejects news on Iraq's seizure of oil well
TEHRAN (ISNA)-Iran's ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi rejected news on Iraq's seizure of an Iran-Iraq joint oil well in Iran's Dehloran border region.

In an interview with Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Kazemi Qomi said no oil well was occupied and the problem was resolved.

Iran to Cut Crude Exports
LONDON (IranMania) - Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari announced that the country aims to reduce its crude oil exports as a way to hike export of other oil products, terming it the strategy of the Islamic Republic Fars News Agency reported.

Deluge, power outage torment Karachi
KARACHI: A massive power breakdown in the country’s premier commercial and industrial hub, of 12 to 24 hours in some parts of the city, compounded the misery of the people already suffering a near-disaster after Saturday’s downpour which flooded residential areas, including the posh localities of Clifton and Defence Society.

Protesters took to the streets on Sunday to vent their anger against the Karachi Electric Supply Company, blocking roads, burning tyres and damaging a department store. A child was reportedly killed during a protest outside the KESC complaint centre in North Nazimabad’s Hayderi locality late in the night, as reports were coming in of the protests spreading to other areas of the city.

Gas from Iran to help save $5m a day
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will save around $5 million a day if gas imported through a pipeline from Iran is used to generate electricity in place of furnace oil, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain said on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference, he said Pakistan already facing an energy crisis was heading for a severe gas shortage and it would have to import gas.

He rejected a perception that Pakistan would be importing gas from Iran at a very high price and said the pipeline would help it to reduce consumption of furnace oil, the key fuel for power generation in the country.

MP's biggest thermal power station in fuel crisis
Madhya Pradesh's biggest Birsinghpur based 1340 Mega Watt (Mw) thermal power generation station is facing fuel crisis with a coal stock of just 10,000 metric tonnes (MT) to generate power against its daily need of around 15,000-16,000 MT if plant functions at its full capacity.

"We are in a crisis and are in constant touch with South Eastern Coalfield (SECL) for fuel supply to Sanjay Gandhi Thermal Power Station at Birsinghpur in Umaria district," MP Power Generating Company (MPPGCL) CMD RB Agrawal said.

Rangoon Electricity Cut to Six Hours a Day
RANGOON — Residents in Rangoon have greeted with dismay an announcement by the state-own Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) saying electrical power will be rationed to six hours a day.

The power supply to Rangoon’s townships will be distributed on a rotation basis, said an MEPE announcement.

Thailand: Carbon credits could subsidise mass transit
Gas Management Organisation (TGO), said the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTTPP) and Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) were studying which types of transportation projects could be claimed as CDM projects and sell the carbon credits.

"When the tickets are cheaper, the passengers may shift from driving to travelling by mass transit, which will result in fewer cars on the road and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions as well," he explained.

Waste storage is dark cloud over nuclear power industry
But here are some of the critical points about the dangers of reprocessing and why it's not the way to go as a waste disposal solution. To "reprocess" spent fuel, different elements like plutonium, are separated so they can be used in new fuel. The problem is, separated plutonium can be readily used to make nuclear bombs.

Oil Refiner Margins Poised to Rise as Shuttered Plants Increase
(Bloomberg) -- Refiners from Germany to Hawaii are weighing plans to shut or sell plants amid the biggest drop in oil demand in almost three decades.

Petroplus Holdings AG told workers in Teesside, northern England, their jobs are at risk. Royal Dutch Shell Plc may sell or close two plants in Germany and another in Montreal. Total SA will dismantle 25 percent of France’s biggest refinery. Chevron Corp. is reviewing its Hawaii plant. Within five years, about 25 percent of capacity in North America and 30 percent of Europe’s will be idled, the International Energy Agency says.

Looks Like Oil Production Already Peaked
The following graph shows that the spike in West Texas Intermediate Oil of $147 per barrel may have signaled that global oil production has already hit its peak.

Oil Shares at Deepest Discount Signal Recession’s End
(Bloomberg) -- The cheapest valuations in at least 14 years are making oil companies too alluring to pass up for UBS AG and Guggenheim Partners LLC, even though earnings in the industry may fall 48 percent this year.

Oil and gas producers in the MSCI World Index traded at $7.84 per dollar of profit this month, less than half the average of $17.10 in the gauge of developed markets and the widest gap since at least 1995, data compiled by Bloomberg show. UBS, Guggenheim and Cohen & Steers Inc. are buying stocks from Exxon Mobil Corp. to Transocean Ltd. because an economic rebound will lift the industry after it generated at least 50 percent more profits than any other group in the past year.

Exxon Mobil Given Until July 31 to Answer Texas Sabotage Claim
(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, has less than two weeks to respond to claims by the Texas General Land Office that the company sabotaged wells to prevent other producers from tapping fields it no longer wanted.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates drilling in the nation’s biggest oil-producing state, won’t take action on allegations of an early 1990s program of plugging abandoned wells with trash, sludge, cement and explosives until August at the earliest, the agency said in a letter to Exxon Mobil. The commission provided a copy of the letter, dated July 17 and sent to Exxon Mobil lawyer W. Timothy George, to Bloomberg News.

Questioning the direction of transportation policy
So why would the United States continue to justify sinking billions of dollars into building cars and roads when we cannot fund the existing system or significantly reduce carbon emissions and lost time? We should be asking: Are we strategically building the right transportation future and are cars, green or not, the right mode of transportation for that future? Or more specifically, should the country more aggressively retool and pursue a national passenger rail system?

Monbiot: A kneejerk rejection of nuclear power is not an option
Support of nuclear power will no doubt provoke hostile responses, but we have a duty to be as realistic as possible about how we might best prevent runaway climate change.

Analysis: Fish and energy needs clash in Midwest
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Thousands of electric customers in several central U.S. states could be on the hook for the cost of improved trout fishing in northern Arkansas.

That's the assertion, at least, of a regional electric company and some utility regulators who are waging a behind-the-scenes battle with the federal government over the financial effect of a plan that would reduce the hydropower capacity of several dams.

Greenland shark may become new source of biofuel
SISIMIUT, Greenland — The Greenland shark, one of the largest species of sharks, is a nuisance to fishermen and its meat is toxic to humans, but researchers now hope the flesh can be used to create a biofuel for Inuits.

The Great Himalayan Watershed: Agrarian Crisis, Mega-Dams and the Environment
Since we tend to take water for granted, it is almost always a bad sign when it is in the news; and lately there has been all too much water-related news from some of Asia’s most populous nations. The stories have ranged from the distressingly familiar—suicides of drought-hit Indian farmers—to the surprising: evidence that pressure from water in the reservoir behind the new Zipingpu dam may have triggered the massive Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, for example. Meanwhile glaciers, which almost never used to make the news, are now generating plenty of worrisome headlines.

Apocalypse Ciao: Let the End Times Roll
Hardcore collapsitarians, these writers purport, agitate for total economic downfall and universal joblessness; they scoff at mere predictions of catastrophe and apotheosis, demanding their doom, ashes, and phoenix-rise right away. They'd like to see the dilapidated systems of America's beleaguered economy—finance, for one, but also retail—burn to the ground so that something new, brighter, and more durable might appear. These old ways, they contend, will self-destruct because of intrinsic design flaws, particularly the creaky command-and-control structures of the pre-Internet era. At lunch, Becker name-checked All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Marshall Berman's modernist critique.

To its adherents, collapsitarianism suggests a giddy liberation from hope, from futile shoring up of ailing economies like Detroit's and the Sunbelt's, from bailouts and stimulus plans and climate change and toxic-asset recovery. On board are said to be Luddites, anarchists, survivalists, green types who see collapse as our comeuppance, critics of American exceptionalism, and even financial-sector employees who just want it all over already.

Green Economics and how it might work
In times of the global economic recession and ecological crisis, it is obvious a radical response is needed. World-renowned economist Herman Daly maintains the future of human civilisation is dependent on a new economic model, based on a dynamic model—known as the steady state economy—preserving the environment we are all dependent upon.

There needs to be a shift away from the current paradigm of the growth economy towards a system that emphasises conserving natural capital and views the economy as a subset of the environment. Neoclassical economics has ignored the environment. The current system views environment and economy as intertwined. Any environmental problem can be solved by the market or by governmental interference.

Oil Rises to Two-Week High as Chinese Refiners Signal Rebound
(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose to its highest in nearly two weeks, buoyed by equity markets and signs that energy demand in China is rebounding.

Oil advanced for a fourth day as European and Asian stock markets gained, led by commodity and technology shares. Refiners in China, the world’s second-largest oil user, raised their operating rates for an eighth week to 85.1 percent on July 16, said CBI China, a Shanghai-based commodities researcher.

Global warming to open up north-east Arctic tanker route
A new "north-east passage" for shipping around Russia's Arctic coast and across the North Pole will be opened within a decade as global warming causes the ice cap to melt, Norway's foreign minister has predicted.

Jonas Gahr Store, speaking at a recent public lecture in Edinburgh, said the route through previously inaccessible Russian waters, could cut tanker journey times between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Yokohama in Japan by 40%, and provide a safer and "pirate-free" route for trans-global shipping.

Russia abolishes oil export duty for East Siberia
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's government last week introduced long-awaited zero export duty -- though only for nine months -- for 13 huge oilfields in Eastern Siberia in a bid to help crisis-stricken oil companies and boost crude production.
Massive reserves of the East Siberia's new generation of fields are seen as a resource base for Russian oil supplies to energy-hungry China.

Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, in April brokered a deal to ship 300 million tonnes of oil over 20 years to China by a pipeline starting from 2012.

Russia Gazprom may place 10-yr Eurobond - sources
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly, Gazprom may place 10 year eurobond, possibly in two tranches of $1.5 billion and 350 million euros ($496 million), banking and trading sources told Reuters on Monday.

"There is talk about a 10 year deal in the 9.75-10.00 percent area," the trading source told Reuters.

Ruble Jumps Most in Five Months, Russia Stocks Rally on $64 Oil
(Bloomberg) -- The ruble gained the most versus the dollar since February and stocks rallied as oil, Russia’s chief export, climbed above $64.

The currency strengthened as much as 2 percent to 31.1612 per dollar, headed for its steepest advance since Feb. 11. The surge made the ruble the best performer among 26 emerging-market currencies. OAO Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural-gas producer, and OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company, led the 30-stock Micex Index to the highest level in almost three weeks.

US, Venezuela tensions rise over Honduras crisis
Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ratcheted up his anti-US rhetoric three weeks into the Honduran crisis, dampening hopes for rapprochement between oil trading partners who have been bitter diplomatic rivals. Chavez initially blamed Washington for the June 28 ouster of his leftist ally, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, but then toned down his noisy campaign to demonize the United States in Latin America, as US President Barack Obama was praised for his quick actions to condemn the military coup.

'No compromise' over Kirkuk, Iraq Kurd leader vows
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq, July 20, 2009 (AFP) – The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Massud Barzani, insisted he will not "compromise" on long-standing Kurdish claims to the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, in a speech late on Sunday.

"We are committed to the application of Article 140 (of the Iraqi constitution) and we promise that we will absolutely not compromise on this issue or on the rights of the people of Kurdistan," Barzani said at a campaign rally ahead of Kurdish regional elections on Saturday.

Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution calls for a referendum to decide the fate of Kirkuk, which the Kurds have long wanted to make the capital of their autonomous region in the north, an aim strongly opposed by the province's Arab and Turkmen communities.

Highways need to be viable for future
Newspapers across Mississippi headlined a story that did not surprise public officials and civic leaders who keep up with the costs of highway transportation: Mississippi's gasoline tax revenue isn't adequate for the demand for maintenance and construction costs.

Ontario plugged in to the reality of electric cars
Do nothing and be blamed for letting an industry wither. Do something and be accused of picking favourites and playing fast and loose with taxpayers' dollars.

The McGuinty government decided to do something last week when it announced it would offer rebates up to $10,000, beginning next July, to anyone who purchases a plug-in hybrid or all-electric car. These car buyers would also be given special access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes and parking lots at GO Transit stations.

Tuvalu turns to solar energy - against rising seas
With a highest point 4.5 metres above sea level, the Pacific island state of Tuvalu plans to shift to generate all electricity from renewable energies by 2020, hoping to push other countries to follow suit to fight global warming.

Slimming good for the environment, says study
Staying slim is as important for the planet’s health as for our own, a new report reveals. Countries with normal rates of obesity (3.5%) consume almost 20% less food and produce up to one gigatonne fewer greenhouse gases than a population with a 40% obesity rate, concluded the article published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE).

Fish Getting Smaller as Their Habitats Warm Amid Climate Change
(Bloomberg) -- Fish in French rivers and the Baltic Sea are getting smaller as their habitats warm up, more evidence that climate change is forcing species from bacteria to sheep to adapt to a hotter planet, a new study said.

Chemicals That Eased One Woe Worsen Another
This is not the funny kind of irony: Scientists say the chemicals that helped solve the last global environmental crisis -- the hole in the ozone layer -- are making the current one worse.

The chemicals, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were introduced widely in the 1990s to replace ozone-depleting gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foam.

They worked: The earth's protective shield seems to be recovering.

But researchers say what's good for ozone is bad for climate change. In the atmosphere, these replacement chemicals act like "super" greenhouse gases, with a heat-trapping power that can be 4,470 times that of carbon dioxide.

Gas2: Biofuels to Remediate Ruined Radioactive Landscapes?


Writer Will Brackett takes a look at the state of the Pickens Plan at the one-year anniversary:
Brackett reminds his readers that a significant event occurred on the actual date of the one-year mark which was:
[O]n July 8 with the introduction of the NAT GAS Act in the U.S. Senate (Senate Bill 1408) with the measure’s sponsors, U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., along with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The measure is the companion to House Bill 1835, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in April.
He also points out that Boone’s unwavering support for his plan to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil has had an effect in spite of falling energy prices and the financing effects of the recession:
[T]here is no denying that Pickens has succeeded where no one else has in getting energy to the forefront along with health care in the national debate. Pickens frequently points out that U.S. presidential candidates and presidents have talked about reducing our oil imports for more than 30 years and yet nothing has been accomplished.
Brackett writes that Boone’s comfort with the most senior-level executives in the nation is paying off:
The biggest success so far has been Dallas-based telecom giant AT&T’s announcement that it intends to eventually possess some 15,000 natural gas-powered vehicles in its fleet and will begin by converting 8,000 or so existing gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles this year. In addition, AT&T will help with the refueling problem by carrying out plans to construct 40 refueling stations in areas where it has significant operations.
Mr. Pickens has shown no signs of slowing down as he continues a full schedule of meetings, public lectures and visits to Washington.
With his continued push, Pickens will help to transform our nation’s energy usage away from foreign oil and more toward cleaner-burning, affordable and abundant natural gas - which best of all, is ours.
To read the entire column click HERE.
– The Pickens Team

AllCarsElectric: Review and Test Drive: Third Generation 2010 Toyota Prius

I had the opportunity to spend a week driving the third generation 2010 Toyota Prius.  I had the Prius IV model with leather interior and solar panel roof option. Driver Interface Getting into the car and you get the experience you have entered a technology center. The human vehicle interface is sophisticated, rich, and technically well ...

AllCarsElectric: CEO of Zenn Motors: EEStor Production Storage Units to be Demonstrated in Weeks Delivered in Months

Ian Clifford is the CEO of Toronto-based Zenn Motor Company ( ZNN.V ).  His company has a unique relationship with the secretive and fascinating Texas startup called EEStor.  EEStor was founded by Dick Weir and Carl Nelson who have worked in hard disc manufacturing for decades.  Ten years ago they first began promoting a new energy storage ...

GM-Volt: Q&A with Ian Clifford CEO of Zenn Motors: EEStor to Publicly Prove its Technology Imminently

I consider myself a fan of fuel efficient vehicles.  At this point the Volt seems the best thing coming, although within the next couple of years there will clearly be a plethora of options to choose...

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Gas2: Nissan to Launch Compact Hybrids

AllCarsElectric: Tata to Cancel EV Production in UK if Government Loans Don't Come Through

According to a report released by the UK based Guardian, Tata Motors will ditch plans to build and sell electric cars in the UK if it does not receive its loan from the country. After being told that the UK government needed more time to determine if Tata would be a solid choice for loans from the the business department of the UK, Tata ...

AllCarsElectric: Car and Driver Reports Dodge Circuit EV is Likely to Reach Production

Reviewers have praised the 2011 concept Dodge Circuit EV.  Many have driven the prototype model and Chrysler previously announced that the vehicle would be produced, then speculation came suggesting the program was canceled especially in light of the economic issues.  However, there is now new evidence indicating the program may still be ...

Gas2: Using Electric Vehicles to Create a Sustainable City of Berkeley

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Best solar panels for your solar powered bike

I've recently been asked to recommend solar modules for use with a solar powered electric-assist bicycle project. It's not the first time the question has come up so I decided to organize some of my old research, do some new checking around. Here's my ranked list of about 20 different solar modules which may be suitable for a bike. They are ranked by weight, cost and size.

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Short Answer
Get the SunWize Sol-Charger SC24-12V. It looks rugged, is relatively light, small and is priced reasonably well for this kind of module. Here is the spec sheet in PDF. I don't have any hands-on experience with this product but if anyone out there takes my advice, please let me know how it works out for you.

Long Answer

There's a confusing array of solar products out there. Most of them making the same claims about being "high efficiency" and whatnot which makes it difficult to sort them out. I approached this problem by identifying the following criteria:

  • Weight
    If you're putting a solar module on your house or boat, you're probably not very concerned with how much it weighs.* But if you're going to be hauling it around on your bicycle it really makes a difference when your batteries run out and you need to pedal home up a long steep hill. I ranked all the different modules I found by how many watts you get for each lb/kg of module you have to haul around and found a huge difference between the best and worst examples. At the top of the list was the PowerFilm 28W rollable thin-film module with nearly 16 watts per pound (34 watts per kg) but at 3.75% efficiency it was the worst of the bunch in terms of size. A lower efficiency module needs needs more surface area than a higher efficiency module to produce the same amount of energy.
  • Cost
    If cost is your primary concern you should have no trouble finding solar modules for under $3/watt on eBay. The trade-off is that your module will weigh about 4 times as much as the winner in the weight category above. If you're carrying 100W of solar panels, this difference adds up to 18 extra pounds. This is because the high volume production lines that make these lower prices possible churn out solar modules built around a big piece of heavy tempered glass surrounded by a chunky aluminum frame. It's a cost-effective solution for use on a roof but is far from ideal on a bicycle. If after reading this you are still considering glass/aluminum framed panels, pay extra attention to how you mount them to your bike. You will need to protect them from vibrations and mechanical shock.
  • Size
    Solar real estate is scarce on a bicycle so the more watts per square foot/meter your module can produce, the better. The highest efficiency modules available are very large 200+ watt Sanyo N-series HIT modules and SunPower's slightly less efficient modules. Both are about 16-18% efficient and too big and heavy for bicycles. If you can get your hands on some Sanyo or SunPower cells and build your own lighter module, that would give you the best of all worlds.

I hope some of this was helpful. Leave comments if you would like clarification on any of this and I'll be happy to update the post.

* Yes, I know about concentrated point loading and rafter spans in light frame construction.