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_ No Global Industry Is Profitable If Natural Capital Is Accounted For
_ I've visited-as-a-tourist or lived in 25 separate countries, on 46 occasions
_ Influence: mobile and more - WARC's James Aitchison
_ Message from Drought Crisis: Don't Put All Your Eggs in America's Breadbasket
_Is Sustainable Living Possible, When there are Too Many People for Too Few Jobs?
_ DM's 6 factors considered before any purchase
_ Interview with Tariq Ali, 20 Mar.2011
_ Ban Ki-moon: World's economic model is 'environmental suicide'
_ Do We Have Iran's Ahmadinejad All Wrong?
_ Lerner/Tikkun: an Israel/Palestine Peace Treaty; & State of the Spirit, 2011
_ George Monbiot predicts next 7 years, in Dec.2003; & California Models the World, LA-Times, in Jan.2004
_ Auckland Harbour Bridge Walk-cycle-way, NZ
_ Coal-Mine Rescue is not like Fire-fighting
_ Eyres, FT: Cultivate Growth Industry
_ Brayne: Drop in BBCs climate coverage
_ Renewables provide 73% of NZs total electricity
_ NZs Windflow 500kW Turbine: Success!
_ 150 earthquakes in Canterbury NZ
_ Christchurch NZ Earthquake News: RadioNZ
_ Toxic legacy: US Marines Fallujah assault
_ Suicides outnumber road deaths - NZ
_ Small Modular Nuclear Reactors? TOD
_ D & Bs Life in 32 Tweets, Ds Style
_ Totnes-UKs Energy Descent Action Plan
_ ShapeNZ Mining Survey in May 2010
_ Wake-UpCall: Worlds Bigges tOilJunkie; Nelder
_ Protests against new powers for NZ Govt agencies
_ Links for 14-Apr to 16-Apr 2010
_ URLs: furless animal found in Sichuan; Hominid Species Discovery Shows Transition Between Apes, Humans
_ Carbon-Free Britain planned by Center for Alternative Technology (CAT)
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Small Modular Nuclear Reactors? TOD

This is the text and images of: - 148 comments:

Possibilities for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?

Posted by Gail the Actuary on July 20, 2010 - 10:32am

This is a guest post by Rod Adams, author of Atomic Insights Blog. Rod's Oil Drum name is atomicrod. Rod earned his initial atomic knowledge while serving as an engineering officer on US nuclear powered submarines throughout the 1980s. He founded Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. in 1993 to produce small modular reactors, but put that company to sleep in 1996, when the price of oil dipped to $10 per barrel and natural gas sold for as low as $1.60 per million BTU.

Pick up almost any book about nuclear energy and you will find that the prevailing wisdom is that nuclear plants must be very large in order to be competitive. This assumption is widely accepted, but, if its roots are understood, it can be effectively challenged.

Recently, however, a growing body of plant designers, utility companies, government agencies and financial players are recognizing that smaller plants can take advantage of greater opportunities to apply lessons learned, take advantage of the engineering and tooling savings possible with higher numbers of units and better meet customer needs in terms of capacity additions and financing. The resulting systems are a welcome addition to the nuclear power plant menu, which has previously been limited to one size - extra large.

In this post, I would like to tell you a little more about the change that is taking place--which I view as a welcome one.

When Westinghouse, General Electric and their international competitors first learned that uranium was a incredible source of heat energy, they were huge, well established firms in the business of building equipment used for generating electrical power. Each had made a significant investment in the infrastructure necessary for producing central station electrical power on a massive scale.

Experience had taught them that larger power stations could produce cheaper electricity and that electricity from central power stations could be effectively distributed to a large number of customers whose varying needs allowed the capital investment in the power station to be most effectively shared between all customers.

Their experience was even codified by textbook authors with a rule of thumb that said that the cost of a piece of production machinery would vary by the throughput raised to the 0.6 power. (According to this thumb rule, a pump that could pump 10 times as much fluid as another pump of similar design and function should cost only four times as much as the smaller pump.) They, and their utility customers, understood that it was much cheaper to deliver bulk fuel by pipeline, ships, barges, or rail than to distribute smaller quantities of fuel in trucks to a network of small plants.

Just as individuals make judgments based on their experience of what has worked in the past, so do corporations. It was the collective judgment of the nuclear pioneers that the same rules of thumb that had worked so well for fossil plants would apply to nuclear plants.

Though accurate cost data is difficult to obtain, it is safe to say that there was no predictable relationship between the size of a nuclear power plant and its cost. Despite the graphs drawn in early nuclear engineering texts-which were based on scanty data from less than ten completed plants-there was not a steadily decreasing cost per kilowatt of capacity for larger plants.

It is possible for engineers to make incredibly complex calculations without a single math error that still come up with a wrong answer if they use a model based on incorrect assumptions. That appears to be the case with the "bigger is better" model used by nuclear plant designers and marketers.

Though the "economy of scale" did not work for the first nuclear age, there is some evidence that a different economic rule did apply. That rule is what is often referred to as the experience curve. According to several detailed studies, it appears that when similar plants were built by the same organization, the follow-on plants cost less to build. According to a RAND Corporation study, "a doubling in the number of reactors [built by an architect-engineer] results in a 5 percent reduction in both construction time and capital cost."

This idea is significant. It tells us that nuclear power is no different conceptually than hundreds of other new technologies.

The principle that Ford discovered is now known as the experience curve. . . It ordains that in any business, in any era, in any capitalist competition, unit costs tend to decline in predictable proportion to accumulated experience: the total number of units sold. Whatever the product (cars or computers, pounds of limestone, thousands of transistors, millions of pounds of nylon, or billions of phone calls) and whatever the performance of companies jumping on and off the curve, unit costs in the industry as a whole, adjusted for inflation, will tend to drop between 20 and 30 percent with every doubling in accumulated output.
George Guilder Recapturing the Spirit of Enterprise Updated for the 1990s, ICS Press, San Francisco, CA. p. 195

These ideas are not new. I copied most of the above paragraphs from an article that I published on Atomic Insights in May 1996 titled Economy of Scale? Is Bigger Better?.

Apparently, the ideas that I pointed to fourteen years ago have also occurred to a number of nuclear plant designers and business decision makers who noticed that the estimates for the traditional sized nuclear plants kept expanding at much greater than the rate of inflation as they became more detailed and closer to reality. The complexities of putting together the very large systems and projects kept adding to the risk, which added to the cost and complexity of financing which added to the project complexity by requiring additional partners - including government agencies and public subsidies.

Some frustrated nuclear plant designers, inspired by talking with customers about their needs and remembering what was technically possible in terms of nuclear reactor sizing determined that they might be able to solve some of the cost and schedule complaints by a complete rethinking of the old economy of scale paradigm. For anyone who has been paying attention during the past five years or so, the names of Hyperion, NuScale and Toshiba 4S have been increasingly frequent terms of discussion as start-ups and some established vendors began designing nuclear fission based systems sized at 10, 25, or 45 MWe, which is a radical departure from the 1000 MWe (plus) sizes of the AP1000 (Westinghouse), ESBWR (GE-Hitachi), or EPR (Areva).

Initially, the project leaders for these new designs thought about using them in distributed remote locations where power is either not available or is being supplied by expensively delivered diesel fuel. John (Grizz) Deal and his sister, Deborah Deal Blackwell, the Hyperion Power Generation founders thought about the how a simple, infrequently fueled nuclear plant could supply power to a remote area for up to a decade without refueling. They recognized the value that such a system could provide to the previously powerless people living in that remote area.

The system could provide power for refrigeration, water treatment and distribution systems, communications systems, and reliable, flicker free lighting. Unfortunately, the specific technologies needed for the Hyperion design - liquid metal (Pb-Bi) cooling and uranium nitride fuel elements - are not in commercial use. They hve been used in several specialized reactors and proven to work reliably and safely, but starting up a new supply chain is just one of the many hurdles that Hyperion is diligently working to overcome. The Toshiba 4S sodium cooled power system faces similar challenges, but both concepts have their fans and both are moving forward.

A trio of project teams has recognized that the concept of small does not mean that you have to start from scratch with the supply chain, training programs, and safety analysis; it is possible to do a redesign of light water reactors from the ground up to produce an economical design that achieves economy by both simplification and increased unit volume. All three of the teams - NuScale, B&W and Westinghouse - have designed systems that put the entire primary plant into a single pressure vessel. This choice eliminates the potential for a large pipe break loss of coolant accident. They have all chosen to include a large volume of water - relative to the core power output - that provides operators with lengthy interval between any conceivable accident and required operator action. They also have chosen passive safety systems that do not require any outside power sources to operate, so they expect to be able to prove that they can meet existing safety criteria without redundant power sources. All of the iPWR systems envision using fuel assemblies that are essentially the same as commercial nuclear plant fuel elements - but they will be shorter and there will be fewer assemblies in each core. All of the systems have been designed for the post 911 security and safety considerations including the aircraft impact rule through the use of below grade installation.

NuScale Power Module

After those common traits, there are some differences in technical features that might be attractive to different kinds of customers. NuScale's module size is 45 MWe and it does not contain any coolant pumps; the system uses natural circulation both in operation and when shut down. The company expects that customers will want to plan for the eventual installation of 6 (270 MWe) or 12 (540 MWe) units on a single site.

NuScale has selected Kiewit as its Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor. Together the two companies have completed a detailed, bottom up price estimate yielding an expected cost of between $4,000 and $4,400 per kilowatt of capacity, depending on whether the customer wants a 6 or 12 pack installation. NuScale has informed the NRC that it will be filing its license application in the first half of 2012. Much of its system and safety analysis work is backed up with actual data from the 1/3 scale integrated system loop (with electric heaters to simulate the nuclear core) installed at Oregon State University.

Westinghouse is a bit further out with its 335 MWe IRIS, but it plans to submit a license application by the end of 2014. Part of the delay is due to a company focus on completing the revised license application for the AP1000 and quickly resolving any of the inevitable engineering issues that pop up during plant construction.

mPower in underground containment

The integrated pressurized water reactor (iPWR) that is gaining the most buzz from the business community and political leaders, however, is the 125 MWe mPower™. Yesterday, Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, with 57,000 employees and $30.8 billion in 2009 revenue, announced that it was joining with B&W as a 20% partner in an exclusive alliance that they have branded as Generation mPower to build complete, turn-key power plants.

B&W has an already existing and ASME 'N-stamp' certified US manufacturing base and 50 years worth of experience in building nearly all of the components required for the small, modular light water reactors that power ships and submarines. Bechtel has either built or participated in major renovation projects at 64 of the 104 nuclear plants operating in the United States.

The mPower™ modules will be about the same size as the NuScale modules, but each module will produce about 2.5 times as much power as a NuScale module because they include submerged reactor coolant pumps to provide forced flow through the core. The system is designed to supply a sufficient quantity of natural circulation to provide core cooling after shutdown without any pumps running, thus maintaining the passive safety characteristic. Like NuScale, Generation mPower expects that customers for its plants will probably want to plan to install multiple units on a single site, though they might start with just one or two and add additional units gradually over time. Generation mPower has informed the NRC that it will be submitted a design certification application by the end of 2012; that application might be filed at the same time as a construction and operating license for the first of a kind unit.

The iPWR projects are all positioning themselves to obtain licenses in the United States, to sell their first units to US customers, and to get the involvement of experienced nuclear utility companies. The project sponsors have determined that their smaller unit sizes will be attractive power sources for certain types of customers that would face an insurmountable barrier in trying to build one of the extra large plants. Modular power stations can be financed in phases with revenue generation increments that are more closely matched with demand growth. Several cooperative electric utility companies have joined in the user groups that have formed to help provide both mPower and NuScale with the customer point of view as the system designers complete their detailed work.

Both NuScale and Generation mPower have determined that the proposed unit sizes more closely match the capacity currently provided by aging coal plants and might be considered as appropriate replacements once those coal plants reach the end of their life. Both the Tennessee Valley Authority and FirstEnergy have expressed interest in finding out more about how the proposed modules might help them reuse existing sites that currently host obsolete coal power plants and are not even close to natural gas pipelines.

A growing body of plant designers, utility companies, government agencies and financial players are recognizing that smaller plants can take advantage of greater opportunities to apply lessons learned, take advantage of the engineering and tooling savings possible with higher numbers of units and better meet customer needs in terms of capacity additions and financing. The resulting systems are a welcome addition to the nuclear power plant menu, which has previously been limited to one size - extra large. Developing a broader range of system choices using nuclear fission energy could have a measurable impact on segments of the energy market that have been most often served by burning distillate fuel or natural gas. Small modular reactors offer a reason to be optimistic that human society will have access to all of the energy that it needs for increased prosperity for larger portion of the population.

Posted by davd at 09:51 NZD
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Friday, 16 July 2010
D's Style & 32 Tweets; July 2010

First: David MacClement's 32 tweets which encapsulate me-and-my-wife's way of life as we continue living on NZ$7,490 (US$5,208 in 2007) per person per year.
Then: My style, by DM, in the thread: "J.M. Greer and DM on living on much less in future"

These 32 tweets were first published in Ubuntu Cloud at: - with file name:
DavidMacClement32TweetsChoicesActivsPlesntLife.txt (5.4kB to be downloaded).

{My Twitter page: - then click "Favorites", has the same, but with the latest first; in 4575 characters (783 words of 5.84 charac.) in June-July 2010.}

I admire John Michael Greer, and the "5.84 characters per word" came from word-count of Greer's Archdruid Report "Problems and Predicaments" (Aug 2006) at:

D.M.'s tweet summary of his-and-wife's life:

I'm starting a series of tweets about our choices and activities living a pleasant life on US$5,208 each. Ordinals: base32:
16:51 Jun 11 2010 -{all: NZST}-

Main attitude: do well, whatever you're doing, & help othrs when you're the obvious person. Have low expectations for convenience, comfort
6:42 Jun 12 2010

Our attitudes, abilities affected by background. Born 1936 (Grt. Depression), 1941 (War in Europe). Cars: only half households. V few rich
5:43 Jun 13 2010

Late 1940s,'50s, early 60s: all British Commonwealth & most W. Europe had socialist parties occas. in government. Community not individual
10:03 Jun 14 2010

B-&-I'v livd for a month to many years in England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Ghana, New Zealand, Nigeria, Australia, northern India; w kids
7:10 Jun 15 2010

B-&-I'v built radios, kitset amplifier. B built livingroom furnitur, bunks as divider so master bedroom became two for son & daughtr, toys
9:20 Jun 16 2010

I brought up chn to be capabl: smal alowance, cooking from scratch, exploring - taking risks, grass-cuting pay, going to friends by bicycl
8:19 Jun 17 2010

Now we'r living on NZ$7,490 (US$5,208) ea. we've put savings into re-roofing (corrugatd iron), ceiling & floor insulation, windfarm shares
10:59 Jun 18 2010

We're healthy by walking 5.6km (3.5 mi) evry day, bread-based meals w. carrot-n-cabbage (me) or fruit-n-vegs (B), & stress-minimised lives
9:50 Jun 19 2010

Have no health insurance, only minimal: house (fire) and used-only-monthly car (3rd-party). Free water: rain on roof stored: 4000-gal tank
7:35 Jun 20 2010

House: 3-br 1-bath old(1966) 1200sq.ft/111sq.m, wood-framed on 4x4-in wood post, water barrier, concrete block, clay. 4ppl: 300 sq.ft/pers
10:06 Jun 21 2010

Food buy. Daily: organic milk, bread: local superette, bakery (5 min walk). Weekly: organic fruit-n-vegs for 4: courier but cycle-rideable
11:07 Jun 22 2010

B's 2 garden plots, ea 1mX2m (22 sq.ft), did well. Tomatos (bush & tall), scarlet runnr beans, capsicums, 6 carrots, silver-beet, beetroot
8:11 Jun 23 2010

Had old grapfruit, prun-plum trees whn arrivd 1980; B made marmalad-n-jam 15 yr. 2005 sh startd planting fruit trees. Ate 3 appls, feijoas
7:59 Jun 24 2010

I drink 1.5L watr mornings: use electr ketl, induction cookr & stainles teapot t mak 4 blak & 1 green teas daily. Hot watr in vacuum flask
9:39 Jun 25 2010

by intrnet frm Kawau Island. Helpd petrol-drivn post-hole diging then after moonris had bath in half 44gal plastic drum w hot water, dippr
18:21 Jun 26 2010

Othr electr: lights, computr (Mac Mini & 2002 laptop), hot watr, pump, washr, old frig. Our 2to4-pers houshold: 2,260 kWh/yr, ea: 2 kWh/dy
16:35 Jun 27 2010

My describes involvement with .04%-my windfarm (befor recent dilution). My part of 230 MWh/day was 92 kWh/day
18:45 Jun 28 2010

Our 1-yr-old eficient stove burns wood frm our 1/4-acre; 2 logs heats 1 room. "Cold" days only need hot watr bottle undr wool shirt/jacket
12:58 Jun 29 2010

In Auckland, latitud 37 (Monterey CA; Sicily), New Zealand w. near-free public helth, livng on tax-pd US$5,208-6,921/pers/yr isnt dificult
16:49 Jun 30 2010

Little luxuries: after walks, beer: 250 ml or one small glass between us (alcohol: 8.5ml D, 3.7ml B). Sat & Sun: one coffee + croissant ea
8:17 Jul 1 2010

RusselNorman: Off to event marking 1 yr of Green National home insulation scheme w JohnKey. 50000 homes warmed up. Good for health and enviro. Wave green flag!
10:57 Jul 1 2010

Th @RusselNorman RT bcaus our low-incom houshold qualified fr govt asistnce w insulation. Also hav new corugatd-iron roof & eficient stove
19:33 Jul 2 2010

We volunteered/taught physics in Africa & in Canada & NZ; we continue helping community: making submisions & marching
9:11 Jul 3 2010

I walk barefoot most places, daylight. Wear shirts, Ts, from teaching in 1980s. Buy U-pants, hemp jeans 2-3 yrs. Accept gift NZ-wool shirt
9:21 Jul 4 2010

Enjoy: reading; libry bus Wed Greenhithe hamRadio; writng lectur-notes t
8:48 Jul 5 2010

I don't aprov of what most OECD peopl do most of th time; took wrong trak in 50s. Doing usualy requirs using-up material & energy. Minimiz
8:16 Jul 6 2010

See my weTookTheWrongTrack-inThe50s-n60s: Positiv Futurs Dc2000. &: IveHadA-GoodLife_Civilization:
8:31 Jul 7 2010

Psych Medicine I wondr if most peopl in the OECD are psychologicaly ill, divorced from reality
17:16 Jul 8 2010

I use eficient 1990s NZmade top-load washr & lineDry. Not frig. Foreseeing the futur: Predicaments:
7:36 Jul 9 2010

Enjoyd free travl & entry t Transpt n Technol Museum 132yo steam-pwd beam engin. B said, sharing cofee-n-mufin "its good t b married" 1968
11:31 Jul 10 2010

B's projcts: 1: upgradng hous t last >25 yr eg shwr; 2: onlin transcrib photos f census & B-M-D recrds frm 19th cent; 3: garden. Me:routin
8:21 Jul 11 2010

Goal: a satisfying life enjoyabl at times, within self-imposd limitation frm 7to10 bilion peopl on earth: water sunlight soil biodiversity
7:23 Jul 12 2010

-{added; Predicaments: is by John Michael Greer, August 31, 2006. "US$5,208" was mid-July 2007, all payments recorded}-


My style, by DM. {in the LessIsMore thread: "J.M. Greer and DM on living on much less in future"}

· JM Greer said (at ): "the American middle class [is trying to] maintain the privileges and perks of its lavishly subsidized lifestyle ..".

· Most members of the LessIsMore list, including me, have chosen a different style: frugal and sharing rather than individualist and even selfish (or greedy). For me it _is_ a choice; I am rich compared with the average world citizen, and possibly richer in land-plus-shares than the average member of LessIsMore - I have no intention of selling the two multi-acre properties I have a share in (I consider myself caretaker/guardian, *Kaitiaki|*), and only selling this quarter-acre suburban section when we (or I) leave here. _|*:

· Above are the 32 140-character tweets from me which describe my life and some of my philosophy in nominally 783 words, but this freezing morning I became aware that I have certain characteristic ways which differ from the ways of most people, and even from others in my family. Describing them, calling them "my style", will seem self-indulgent, but I recognise I am changing as I get older and this marks a way-point on my journey.

Take wood-fires.
· Late day-before-yesterday while B and I collected daughter from Sandspit, our p-SIL returned after being at work in Auckland during the week, and lit the fire to welcome us home in the (winter) evening. I keep only the fire-lighting paper and sticks/kindling in the house, expecting to go out to the front porch (or lift the tarpaulin covering the woodpile) to get the two logs which is all I normally put on the fire.
— p-SIL felt it was normal to have a small pile of such logs near the fire for convenience, so he brought in some; I prefer to have to go to some trouble to get the main fuel for the fire, as a reminder that each log has value, and to use one is to decrease our stock.

Take growing (and mature) trees.
· I am very reluctant to cut branches off (or fell) any tree, even the Privet|¹ weed-tree which has "self-seeded" all over this area because many birds eat the drupes/fruits. This extends to a great dislike for the Council's removal of a tall macrocarpa that was leaning on its neighbour - we could do nothing because our recent boundary survey showed the Council to be correct in saying the trees along Almond Grove are on their land, not along the boundary as we had thought for nearly thirty years.
— Those macrocarpas are too tall, it's true, as shown by the winter shadow they cast on our house and backyard with its garden and fruit trees. And the long shadows meant that B had grown to wish all the tall ones were removed, not even pruned back (which is not possible with a macrocarpa since they don't put out new shoots from the stem after the top or ends of branches are cut off).

Take clothing.
· I wear jeans and shirts until they are beyond holey, mending them with whatever colour of thread is handy to hold them together for another six to twelve months.
— Others in the family also go to some trouble repairing them so they can keep wearing clothes until they're too worn to consider sending to "Goodwill" or a second-hand clothing store. But generally those repairs aren't particularly visible.

Take adjusting to a latitude-37 (maritime) winter.
· We have a hard frost this Sunday morning (11 July) but B and I are warm again after taking (digital) photos of our backyard, since I lit the wood fire an hour before she got up. But it is only this livingroom which we heat, so we use little wood. All the 30 years we've lived here the bathroom has been unheated, until this last week: I moved the 1990s LPG-propane portable heater into the space freed-up when we removed the cast-iron bath), and several of us have used it; the shower-stall contains most of the warm air which used to warm the whole room (somewhat).
As I was bringing up our kids they had no heat in the bedroom(s) for a few years, then a radiant heater mounted high on the walls. Even so, I believe now that I should have paid more attention to whether they were warm enough in bed with just one or two hotwater bottles and thick quilts. Nowadays I am quite happy to wear 6 layers of clothing with my 48yo "Loden-coat" on top, even in this living-room, but the other three find it quite warm enough with two layers. Knowing it will be warm in the sun outside, mid-morning, makes it easy to put up with feeling cool now. I'm fairly sure our bodies use more food energy to keep warm during the winter, which I believe is part of sustainable living. Ref:
— Others outside my family consider that a warm bedroom is necessary, partly to avoid becoming susceptible to breathing-system infections.

Take travel.
· I walk (or could ride a bike) everywhere I might want to go, using buses only when I'm accompaning B or for household reasons. I will certainly never fly (other than gliders) again. I do this since I am aware several times a week that I "shouldn't be here" because there are 4 to 5 billion excess people on earth at our current OECD consumption rate, and I can justify my staying alive only if I reduce my consumption (fossil fuels particularly) to well below the current world average - to me at least one-third of such a reduction should be the ethical choice of all those in the richer half of the human race.
— Others, at an earlier stage in their life, are not yet able to say: "I've had a good life, I don't want more; my life is enough." {Apr 1998; - still available (originally as a Google-cached copy) at: }

Take eating locally.
· I'm not where I want to be in this yet, partly because supply sources and routes keep changing. But our recent fruit-and-vege delivery included Samoan organic bananas, shorter and better flavour than the industrially produced Cavendish variety: And I try to get our Fair Trade coffee from East Timor|², on the basis that (a) they have very little other than coffee to export, and (b) it would a lengthy but relatively easy trip by sailing ship, or more likely, sail-assisted bio-diesel-engined cargo ship|³.
— Most others hardly read the details on the label, let alone know where their food comes from. Some, in a few cases through no fault of their own, wouldn't know how to cook or otherwise prepare food directly from a horticultural source or organic farm (IMO CAFO|ª-meat is completely out of consideration).

Take socialising.
· This is an essential for most people, but as an incipient-autistic person I find plenty to interest me that doesn't involve being with people for more than around an hour at most. I don't seem to have ever needed others affirming "who I am" or loving me, beyond B whom I met (through the Toronto Scientific Introduction Centre) when I was 30yo.
— In contrast, _everyone_ I have ever met wants to have good friends. I am including this in this "My style, by DM" post because far more money and time than most people realise, is put into social activities ("going out" and having visitors, including having an impressive home and keeping it and gardens tidy and attractive). I don't say my way is better, just that it's part of "My style".

Take daily life.
· I am most comfortable in a very routine life where I have built the routine. I put the things I use in specific places, use a rota of three sets of clothes so I don't have to think about what to put on, eat the same nine food items (raw veges, peanuts and bread) day after day for eighteen years, and am happy leaving within a minute of 06:45 AM to walk up the road in the dark to get our daily bread. Part of my self-diagnosis of autism, though I call it an aspect of "my style".
— Others don't mind much if things are out-of-place, and want variation in what they do and eat, I guess to keep life interesting.


_|¹: Japanese Privet: pic: ; original;


_|³: For example, the sail-assisted Rainbow Warrior III:
- pic on: ; original:
AP article:

_|ª: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation
- or more generally:

Posted by davd at 12:49 NZD
Updated: Friday, 31 December 2010 15:18 NZT
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Sunday, 16 May 2010
Totnes Energy Descent Action Plan

 Totnes (UK)'s Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) list of Contents:

- has, in its introduction:

"An Energy Descent Action Plan is a guide to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our carbon footprint over the next 20 years, during which we expect many changes associated with declining oil supplies and some of the impacts of climate change to become more apparent.

In this EDAP we have built a picture of this future scenario based on visions of a better future. What we have tried in the process to invite the community

** to dream how the future could be, and to then work out the practical pathways by which we actually get there.**

Who is it being written for?

This EDAP is written for the community of Totnes and District; a market town and its fifteen encircling parishes. It is for people from all walks of life, all sectors; individuals, families, organisations, policy makers, service providers and service users;

** people who want to become part of the solution to some of the biggest challenges civilisation has ever faced.**

This EDAP provides a guide to our common future, with information about the issues, ideas about how the future may look as we move across the timeline and suggests many small and large actions that can contribute towards this vital process."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

sent-on by David.

David MacClement, ZL1ASX RePosts: I am at
earth our home:




Posted by davd at 09:45 NZD
Updated: Sunday, 16 May 2010 09:56 NZD
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ShapeNZ Mining Survey - May 2010

-{These are sent by email after signing-up to take the questionnaires at:
- which has:
"Have your say on shaping New Zealand's future.
ShapeNZ is run by:
- the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development."}-

"ShapeNZ" Mining Survey, May 2010:

{My check-box picks start with:

" # "

- while their "Why do you say that?" I answer starting:

"# · " .}

A large proportion of New Zealand’s land area is in the conservation estate, where some mining occurs. Some of this land is in Schedule 4 areas where mining is not currently allowed.

Page 1 of 13
Conserving more land:

The NZ Government is considering whether or not to remove the highest level of conservation protection (called Schedule 4) from 70 square kilometers of land in five areas, so that applications for exploration and mining activity can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
It is also considering adding 14 areas, covering 124 square kilometres to Schedule 4.
Schedule 4 restricts mineral-related activity in specified public conservation areas.
Schedule 4 land makes up about 40% of public conservation land or 13% of New Zealand’s total land area.

    Do you support or oppose proposals to add another 124 square kilometres of land to Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act?
    Strongly support
# Support
Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why is that?
# · I don't agree with NZ governments' view that their main job is to grow the economy, the National-led govt. being stronger on this.
· I am proud to be a NZer, partly because of the big fraction of the country which has not been despoiled by human activity (farming, mining, roads and buildings).
· So naturally I "support proposals to add another 124 square kilometres of land to Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act."
Some exploration and mining already occurs in conservation areas, but not on Schedule 4 land.

    Generally speaking, do you support or oppose mining on conservation land which is not Schedule 4?
    Strongly support
# Neutral
Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why is that?
# · Neutral since the outlines of conservation land are usually straight lines (when not coast or rivers) so some pockets of land currently in, could just as well be out -- they don't have the same reason to be labelled "Conservation" as the main block.
    Generally speaking, do you support or oppose _exploration_ of Schedule 4 land to access the mineral resource that could be mined, subject to the normal planning and environmental protection procedures under the Resource Management Act?
    Strongly support
# Oppose
Strongly oppose
Don't know

Page 2 of 13

Removing areas from Schedule 4

Firstly, some background for you…
The Government is considering removing these areas from Schedule 4 so that applications for exploration and mining activity can be considered on a case-by-case basis:

* Parts of the Coromandel Peninsula Forest Park, and the Otahu and Parakawai geological areas to the south of the peninsula
* Part of Great Barrier Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf
* Much of the Rakiura National Park, which covers about 85% of Stewart Island, and
* The Inangahua Sector of Paparoa National Park on the South Island’s West Coast
These areas are protected because they have earlier been added to Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.
 Schedule 4 restricts mineral-related activity in specified public conservation areas. These have outstanding conservation or environmental values. These include unique scenic beauty, rare plant and animal life and recreational, tourism, cultural and historical values.
The Government says these are areas with “known and significant mineral potential”.
It estimates the potential value of the minerals in the 73 square kilometres of Schedule 4 areas under consideration is about $19 to $20 billion. Of this $13.7 billion is in the Coromandel and $4.3 billion on Great Barrier Island, a total of $18 billion.
The Government earns royalties from mining companies for the minerals they extract, ranging between 1.5% and 2% for high value minerals, like gold and silver. Workers in the mining sector (including oil and gas) earn an average income of $60,000 per employee, over double the national average. In 2000-2005 the sector returned an average $360,000 of gross domestic product per full time employee, nearly six times the national average.
We’ll ask you about your views on removing Schedule 4 protection from individual areas shortly, but firstly:

    Generally speaking, do you support or oppose mining on Schedule 4 conservation land?
    Strongly support
# Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why is that?
# · Mainly my previous objection to the view that increasing the NZ GDP is always good.
· In this case, there were excellent, documented reasons for naming these Schedule 4 areas: "mining forbidden", and nothing has changed.
- If we were significantly below US$10,000 per person, perhaps NZ$2,000 per person, adding to GDP by such means as mining small parts of Schedule 4 areas might possibly be justified.
· But the "average" NZer is actually too rich already, for sustainable living, so the government getting 1.5% and 2% from an activity which, with its support areas, clearly degrades Schedule 4 places, _cannot_ be justified.

    The Government says mineral wealth in Schedule 4 areas is estimated to be worth $19 to $20 billion if all were extracted. If it were, the Government would be paid royalties by the mining companies over the long term. New Zealand also benefits from tax paid by mining companies and from payment for services bought locally, including wages and salaries of employees and contractors.
    In your view, is this sufficient reward for extracting the minerals from Schedule 4 land?
# No
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · See above -- we don't need more money, it's as simple as that.

Page 3 of 13
Schedule 4 areas
Now we’ll give you brief descriptions of the minerals and conservation values of each area a Government stock take has recommended removing from Schedule 4.
 We’d then appreciate your views on whether or not each area should be removed from Schedule 4.

_Inangahua-Paparoa National Park_
The Inangahua Sector of Paparoa National Park, on the South Island’s West Coast, is proposed for removal from Schedule 4.
The Inangahua Sector covers four areas to the west of the Inangahua River between Te Wharau (Stony) River and the Buller River.
The Paparoa National Park, established in 1987, comprises a number of areas covering about 30,000 hectares in northern Westland. Several parcels of land have been added over time to the park, and in 2008 most of these were also added to Schedule 4.
Mineral potential:
Mainly coal mining has potential in this area and some mining occurs now. The four separate areas of the Inangahua Sector have medium to high mineral prospectivity for coal. There are several mining and exploration permits covering the Inangahua Coalfield. The field currently produces 120,000 tonnes of coal a year, mainly supplying industry in the top half of the South Island.
The potential of the coalfield has not yet been fully explored and evaluation of the importance of individual areas will require drilling and more detailed assessment. There may also be coal seam gas potential.
Conservation issues:

The four areas of the Inangahua Sector contain substantial areas of unlogged forest (almost 80 percent), with a significant proportion on limestone substrates. They include areas of previously logged lowland terrace beech forest in good condition and are important for wildlife, including threatened bird species (great spotted kiwi, kâkâ, kererû).
All four areas adjoin and complement more extensive areas of protected forest. Areas within Paparoa National Park are of significant cultural importance to Ngâi Tahu as well as containing pounamu resource which is owned by Ngâi Tahu. The glacial karst areas of the Inangahua Sector contain places of cultural value to iwi, including archaeological sites.
    Do you support or oppose areas of the Inangahua Sector of Paparoa National Park being removed from Schedule 4 and therefore being made available for exploration and possible mining?
    Strongly support
# Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · Coal should not be burnt but saved underground (same for petroleum) for possible future use as very-long-life plastics. Long-chain hydrocarbons (not the shortest, CH4 and C2H6) have reduced-entropy already -- the longer the chain of Cs the less entropy -- so for humans to _increase_ entropy by burning them is a thermodynamic mistake; it speeds-up the tendency to break-up-and-dissipate (i.e. increase entropy) that is the fundamental law of the universe.

_Stewart Island_

Further investigation and analysis are being undertaken of parts of Rakiura National Park (not including the Hananui/Mount Anglem area) as part of the Government’s mineral investigation programme in 2010.
Rakiura National Park was formed in 2002 and at 139,960 hectares it covers about 85 percent of Stewart Island. It was added to Schedule 4 in 2008.
Mineral potential:
The potential value of these resources is estimated to be $7 billion at today’s prices, with most ($5.4 billion) being in rare earth elements.
Within the national park, the most documented mineral occurrences, particularly gold, copper, tin and tungsten are associated with granites of the Median Batholith, which cover more than half of the island.
Conservation issues:
Rakiura National Park has high conservation values. The area is recognised as having outstanding scenery and contains features of international, national and regional importance. It is an oceanic island with a distinctive climate, species and ecosystems.
Stewart Island has developed a substantial tourism industry for its small population base, and it is increasingly seen as a niche eco-tourism destination by domestic and international visitors. Visitors are attracted to its pristine environment, its relative isolation and lack of urban development, and a growing range of outdoor activities based on the island’s conservation attributes. Tourism is the main source of income on the island, overtaking fishing as the historical source of income and population growth.
Feedback to DOC on the Rakiura Conservation Management Strategy highlighted the potential for Rakiura to become New Zealand’s eco-tourism jewel and the opportunity it offers for New Zealand to position itself as a world-class eco-tourism destination.

    Do you support or oppose areas of the Rakiura National Park being removed from Schedule 4 and therefore being made available for exploration and possible mining?
    Strongly support
# Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · Added to all I've said: the reasons are insufficient, since gold, copper, tin and tungsten are dispersed widely requiring _huge_ amounts of tailings to be dumped.
· Within 50 years the human race will have completely over-run the Northern hemisphere and New Zealand (Aotearoa) will be one of a handful of places in the world where eco-tourism is still possible (given suitable means of getting here; I suspect it'll be by biofuelled air transport).

Page 4 of 13
Coromandel Forest Park – Otahu and Parakawai

Two main areas of the Coromandel are proposed for removal from Schedule 4 – part of the Coromandel peninsula to the north, and two ecological areas to the south.
Firstly, the two ecological areas:
The 396 hectare Otahu Ecological Area is part of the Coromandel Forest Park, located south-west of Whangamata. The 68 hectare Parakawai Geological Area is located nearby and is also part of the Coromandel Forest Park.
These two areas are located within the formations that confine several significant gold deposits, including Te Aroha, Karangahake, Golden Cross, Wharekiraponga and Ohui.
Mineral potential:
They are likely to have excellent potential for medium grade and medium tonnage, gold-silver vein deposits. It is estimated there is potential within the two areas for a million-ounce ore body, which would be worth approximately $1.5 billion at today’s prices.
Conservation issues:
The Otahu Ecological Area comprises lowland to montane forest, including kauri, and is part of the largely forested Otahu River catchment. This catchment drains to the Otahu Estuary.
The Otahu Estuary and catchment is one of few areas remaining in the Coromandel that provides a reasonably intact natural sequence of habitat from the upper reaches of stream tributaries in the mountains to the marine habitats of the ocean. The area provides valuable habitat for North Island brown kiwi, Hochstetter's and Archey's frogs, as well as native fisheries.
The conservation values of the Parakawai Geological Area are similar to those of the surrounding conservation park land, which is not covered by Schedule 4. Distinctive geological features exposed by past quarrying are considered worthy of protection. The streams of this part of the park have high habitat values for threatened native freshwater species.

    Do you support or oppose the Coromandel Forest Park Otahu and Parakawai ecological areas being removed from Schedule 4 and therefore being made available for exploration and possible mining?
    Strongly support
# Oppose
Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · I strongly oppose Otau being removed from Schedule 4, and am neutral about the Parakawai ecological area -- Mining could possibly be justified there -- but since they are lumped together (probably for economic reasons) I choose to oppose both.

Coromandel Peninsula

Currently, all public conservation land north and north-west of State Highway 25A (Kôpû- Hikuai road) and the road from Hikuai to Pauanui Beach known as the Hikuai Settlement Road, and the internal waters of the Coromandel Peninsula  (such as harbours and enclosed bays), are listed in Schedule 4.
Mineral potential:
The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the most mineral-rich regions of New Zealand. It includes most of the Hauraki Goldfield, which comprises a large number of mineral deposits.
The peninsula is one of the foremost epithermal gold provinces in the world and is said to be extremely under-explored. The value of potential resources for 12 metallic and six non-metallic minerals for the wider Coromandel area (including the Otahu Ecological Area and the Parakawai Geological Areas) is conservatively estimated to be $54 billion (mostly in gold, silver and peat).
Conservation issues:
About 30 percent is managed by DOC, and sections of that land have high conservation values, including populations of threatened endemic frogs, skinks and geckos. The Coromandel Peninsula has a variety of ecosystem and habitat types, including significant remnant kauri, tawa and podocarp forest. It is home to a number of threatened species, including pâteke, North Island kâkâ, North Island brown kiwi and invertebrates such as Moehau wçtâ and Moehau stag beetle, the highly threatened Archey’s frog and several threatened species of skink and gecko species and frogs. Streams provide habitat for a diverse native fish fauna, including threatened species such as the shortjaw kôkopu and longfin eel.
A range of threatened and endemic plant species such as the nationally critical dwarf greenhood orchid and the endemic mountain daisy are in its forests. The peninsula includes areas of outstanding natural landscape.

    Do you support or oppose public conservation land in the Coromandel Peninsula being removed from Schedule 4 and therefore being made available for exploration and possible mining?
    Strongly support
# Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · I have been (and still am) a quarter-owner of an 87-ha property in the Kauaeranga Valley, since February 1991 (Companies No. 500799), with ranges east and west of us.
· We four have a common interest in revegetating as much as possible of our land in the original natives (farming the lowland paddocks to pay the rates).
· I am adamantly (a) opposed to anything which negatively impacts the Coromandel's ecology and scenery, and (b) opposed to giving ownership of surface or underground resources to foreigners, even when they pay NZers what they consider a lot of money for such ownership privileges.
· If NZ businesses, some decade in the future, require gold or silver for their commercial products, "keyhole mining" might be allowed in carefully selected locations, but just to sell the metal now for a few billion dollars is ludicrous, in my opinion.

Great Barrier Island
One specific area (the 705-hectare Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island) is proposed for removal from Schedule 4. Other public conservation land on the Hauraki Gulf islands will remain protected in Schedule 4.
Mineral potential:

Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island is considered to have significant mineral potential. This includes excellent potential for a number of medium-scale, high-grade gold and silver deposits at depth with a potential value of $4.3 billion at today’s prices.
Conservation issues:
Te Ahumata Plateau is largely under regenerating shrublands, with some patches of remnant broadleaf forest. The plateau forms part of the regenerating forested areas along the spine of the island, which is one of the largest possum- free areas in New Zealand.
Biodiversity values are not well known, but the native shrub daisy, which is in serious decline, is found in the area. Great Barrier endemic species such as Chevron skink and the shrub daisy Olearia allomii may be present.
    Do you support or oppose public conservation land on the Te Ahumata Plateau at Great Barrier Island being removed from Schedule 4 and therefore being made available for exploration and possible mining?
    Strongly support
# Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · Within 25-to-50 years Auckland will be a Mecca for eco-tourism (see my earlier comments), and a few hundred million dollars (1.5% to 2% of a handful of billion dollars) will be seen as peanuts in comparison.

Page 5 of 13
Effects of mining

Thinking about mining on Schedule 4 conservation land how do you rate its effect on the following?
      Very good     Good     Neutral     Bad     Very bad     Don't know
Temporary new jobs _         
Permanent new jobs _         
Tourism jobs _         
Regional economic growth _         
National economic growth _         
New Zealand’s wealth _         
Royalties paid to Government _         
Tax paid to Government _         
Native birds and plants _         
Tourism _         
      Very good     Good     Neutral     Bad     Very bad     Don't know
Scenery _         
Recreation _         
Public access _         
Nearby communities _         
New Zealand’s reputation overseas

Page 6 of 13
Conservation fund

The Government is proposing to put 50% of minerals royalty revenue from public conservation areas into a new Conservation Fund.

At least $2 million a year will be put in the fund for the first four years and a maximum of $10 million a year. The fund won’t be used to deal with the effects of modern mining. Bids to use the funds for conservation projects will be chosen by an independent panel.
    Do you support or oppose a new conservation fund being set up using royalties from minerals mined from public conservation land?
    Strongly support
# Neutral
Strongly oppose
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · While such a fund, even as small as this, is an acknowledgement that mining is very detrimental to conservation land, there are far better choices, like forgetting about mining on all schedule 4 conservation land (and consequently not having the fund).
The mining industry
    Generally, how responsible do you believe the mining industry in New Zealand has been in managing the effects of mining on the environment and local communities?
    Very irresponsible
# Irresponsible
Very responsible
Don’t know
    Why do you say that?
# · I know about the few places where e.g. an access road has gone around a tree instead of cutting it down, but spoil heaps and settling-pond dams are what's left in NZ when the valuable stuff goes to the overseas owners -- it would be more responsible not to mine in the first place.

    Do you trust or distrust the mining industry to fully restore Schedule 4 areas after mining is complete?
    Fully trust
Trust slightly
Neither trust nor distrust
# Distrust
Completely distrust
Don't know
    Why is that?
# · There's no way you can "restore" an ecology to the level where skinks and Powelliphant (giant snails) thrive when put back -- the micro-scale, at the level such plants and animals live, may look very similar to humans but would be quite foreign to those small things.
· To do it well enough would take all the profit out of the mining venture, so it's never done properly.

Page 7 of 13

Currently mining companies pay the Government a royalty of 1.5 % of net revenue from the first $1.5 million from selling gold, silver and platinum group minerals. On net revenue of more than $1.5 million the royalty rises to 2%.
The royalty paid for extracting other high volume, lower value, minerals – like rocks for roads, coal, limestone and peat – ranges from 10c to $1.50 per tonne sold.

    Are these royalty payments to the Government an adequate or inadequate reward to New Zealand for extracting these mineral resources?
    Very adequate
Not adequate
# Very inadequate
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · The risky part, exploration and proving, is already done, so such mining isn't comparable with petroleum exploration. and this is a tiny fraction of _net_revenue_. i.e. the costs have already been paid-for.
· The phrase "an adequate or inadequate reward to New Zealand" just emphasises that the main benefit goes overseas.
· There's no justification for NZ government or businesses to try to attract foreign investment; we need only enough overseas earnings (mainly from selling products and services) to pay for the few essential things we cannot make or supply ourselves.

    Would these royalty payments be an adequate reward to New Zealand for extracting these mineral resources from an area currently covered by Schedule 4?
    Very adequate
Not adequate
# Very inadequate
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · As above, but there's _no_ justification for mining high-conservation-value (Schedule 4) land.

    To achieve a balance between economic benefit and the environment, what level of royalty should the Government receive from those mining Schedule 4 conservation land?
More than 50%
# Other (please specify):
More than 50%, and mining only in the Parakawai ecological area.
    Why do you say that?
# · John Key, a business-oriented banker, wants to run New Zealand as a business, with his eye on the "bottom line" i.e. bringing in as much money as possible.
· He and his Cabinet are wrong -- New Zealand can be (and should be) a nearly-self-sufficient nation, not trying to entice overseas companies with low royalties.

    In Australia the Government has announced it will tax what it calls super profits by mining companies at 40%, while lowering the standard company tax rate over time to 28%.
    Should New Zealand have a 40% super tax on mining company profits in addition to royalties?
# Yes
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · All governments should tax super profits, at what will be seen as punitive rates.

    Should New Zealand have a 40% super tax on any profits made from mining schedule 4 conservation land?
# Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · With the possible exception of the Parakawai ecological area, _no_ profits should be made from mining schedule 4 conservation land.

Page 8 of 13
Consultation process
    Which of the following most closely reflects your view on the Government’s consideration of mining Schedule 4 land?
    The Government has already made up its mind
The Government is genuinely listening to the public before making up its mind
# Don’t know
    Why do you say that?
# · The government is consulting because it is required to; this National-Act coalition would prefer to ignore the public, especially when it suspects most people disagree with its decisions.

    What do you expect the Government will do, after hearing public submissions?
    The Government will remove all five proposed areas from Schedule 4 to allow mineral exploration and possibly mining
# Government will keep some of the five proposed areas in Schedule 4 but proceed to remove others
No areas will be removed from Schedule 4
Don't know
    Why do you say that?
# · Saving face is intrinsic to governments, so its Bill _will_ proceed, hopefully with only one (or perhaps 2) Schedule 4 protected areas still in it.

Page 9 of 13
    Which areas do you think will be kept in Schedule 4 (protecting them from mineral exploration and mining)?

Tick all that apply
# Coromandel Peninsula
Otahu ecological Parakawai geological areas in the Coromandel Forest Park
Great Barrier Island
# Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island
# Inangahua Sector, Paparoa National Park, South Island West Coast
I really don't know

Page 10 of 13
    Would a Government decision to remove areas of conservation land from schedule 4 make you more or less likely to vote for the following parties at the next general election?

(Refers to party vote)
* More likely to vote - Less likely to vote - Will not alter my party vote - Don't know
Act _ Less likely
Green _ Will not alter my party vote
Progressive _ Will not alter my party vote
Labour _ Will not alter my party vote
Maori _ Will not alter my party vote
National _ Less likely
NZ First _ Will not alter my party vote
United Future _ Will not alter my party vote
Another party _ Will not alter my party vote

Page 11 of 13
Finally some questions for our statistics
    Which party did you vote for at New Zealand’s last general election in 2008?
    ACT New Zealand
# Green Party
Jim Anderton's Progressive Party
Labour Party
Maori Party
National Party
New Zealand First Party
United Future
Other party
Chose not to vote
Was not eligible to vote
Don't know or can't remember

    If a general election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?
    ACT New Zealand
# Green Party
Jim Anderton's Progressive Party
Labour Party
Maori Party
National Party
New Zealand First Party
United Future
Other party
Choose not to vote
Not eligible to vote
Don't know

Page 13 of 13
    Finally which of the following best describes your intention for the next general election?
    I definitely won’t vote
I probably won’t vote
I probably will vote
# I definitely will vote
I will not be eligible to vote
    We appreciate your help and thank you for the time you have taken to fill out this survey. Please take this opportunity to add anything further that you want to say in the space below:
# · I have been most impressed with the extent and detail in the descriptions/background you give ("Mineral potential", "Conservation issues") before asking your questions -- someone put a lot of time into it and I respond by giving the questions my full attention.
· Thank you.
    Would you like us to e-mail you a link to this survey’s results when they’re available?
# Yes

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
David MacClement, ZL1ASX I am at
^arkiv RePosts
earth our home:

Posted by davd at 08:56 NZD
Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Topic: news selected by DM
Chris Nelder's May 4th blog article, at: ; original:
- is:

Another Wake-Up Call for the World’s Biggest Oil Junkie

America Still Doesn’t Get It

By Chris Nelder, GetRealList
May 4, 2010

OK, America, it’s time to get real about energy.

The explosion and destruction of the Horizon deepwater rig and the subsequent oil spill disaster are only the latest in a series of wake-up calls you’ve received. Are you listening now?

Your first warning came in 1956, with the publication of M. King Hubbert’s model of US oil production, which correctly predicted its peak in 1970. When Hubbert updated his model on camera in 1976, he also nailed the peak of worldwide conventional oil production in 2005.

Since then, production has remained flat at roughly 74 million barrels per day (mbpd), despite prices gyrating wildly from $40 to $147 to $33 and back to $86 today. High prices did not deliver more oil to market.

Very simply, the cheap and easy oil is gone. What’s left is smaller, harder to find, of lesser quality, and in much more challenging places–under a mile of water and another five miles of rock, for example. It’s expensive, risky, and yes, dangerous.

American domestic oil production peaked in October, 1970 at just over 10 mbpd. It has been in a steadily declining trend ever since, and now stands at 5.5 mpbd.

Over 30 percent of domestic production is from offshore drilling, of which about three-quarters comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater oil production has only become possible in recent years with the development of cutting-edge technology. We do it not because it’s without risk, but because we need the oil – badly. Only offshore is it still possible to find a field in North America that can deliver over 100,000 bpd. Just two of the Gulf fields, Thunder Horse and Atlantis, produce a combined 350,000 bpd.

US crude production, 1900-2007

Source: Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Navigator. Source data.

By comparison, the remaining onshore resources in North America are now decidedly marginal. The days of gusher strikes onshore in the U.S. are long gone. About 1.2 mbpd, or over 20 percent of domestic production, comes from thousands of small “stripper wells” producing under 15 (yes, 15) barrels per day. Low-quality resources like tar sands and shale oil are vast but expensive, and so difficult to scale that they can’t reverse the long-term decline.

The U.S now imports 9.4 mbpd of crude. At $85 a barrel, that’s an $800 million-a-day hole in our pocket, or $292 billion a year. And our import dependency is only getting worse.

An oil export crisis has been developing for years, as oil producers consume more of their own output and Asia outbids the West for declining global exports.

Even so, as the world’s most dependent oil junkie, our demand for oil has held firm. The decline in U.S. oil demand from 21 mpbd in 2007 to 18.6 mbpd today was almost entirely due to lost industrial demand; gasoline demand remained virtually flat throughout the entire oil price spike and recession.

For every finger pointed at an oil company, three point back at us.

Like the whaling ships of the late 1800s that would sail to the ends of the earth in search of whale oil, deepwater drilling is proof that we are willing to pay enormous sums and go to extraordinary lengths and depths to get oil. We have chosen to accept the risks of environmental damage, the horror of oil wars, and the deaths of rig workers in exchange for a continuing supply of cheap, convenient fuel.

We built an entire economy and topography of civilization on the premise of endless, cheap fuel, and profited handsomely from the ever-increasing bounty of the Age of Oil. But having reached the point where it can no longer be increased, and the risks have grown intolerable, we whine and accuse and complain like teenagers, claim we were victimized, and act as though our demand for oil were an unfortunate accident we had no part in.

Isn’t it time ask ourselves how much more risk we’re willing to take, to accept the situation like adults, and plan accordingly?

Since Hubbert’s first warning, our wake-up calls have come ever faster: The Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s and the gasoline rationing that followed. Oil spills. Oil wars. Economically devastating oil price spikes driven by hurricanes and shrinking spare production capacity. And the increasingly frequent spectacle of sinking and spilling offshore rigs.

Yet somehow, this stark and deadly serious reality has escaped our notice. The eager search for a scapegoat in the wake of the Horizon disaster is a clear sign that America simply doesn’t get it.

After highly visible disasters like the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, the Exxon Valdez spill, and now the Horizon spill, the public understands the risk of offshore oil production. What it doesn’t understand—at all—are the choices we now have to make.

Those calling for an end to offshore oil production in the U.S. apparently don’t understand that it accounts for over 30 percent of our domestic supply. They don’t understand that making offshore oil off-limits would be a double-whammy to our pocketbooks, both restricting our income and forcing us to import even more oil at ever-higher prices. They have an inkling that ethanol production is pressuring food supply, but have no concept that the non-food alternatives, like fuel from algae and cellulosic ethanol, are still puny, and a long way from being ready to scale up and replace oil.

Instead of having a rational discussion about how we’re going to manage our remaining offshore oil resources, we look to technology…as if deepwater drillships and blowout preventers and acoustic shutoff switches were the problem, rather than miraculous solutions only a dedicated junkie could love. These technologies don’t fall from the sky. Every safety measure ever invented came as the result of a lesson learned the hard way.

Instead of discussing how we’re going to break our addiction to oil, we turn to politics…as if yelling “Drill, Baby, Drill” or “Spill, Baby, Spill” even louder, or changing tack on our energy policy every four years, could amount to a solution.

All of our politically-driven energy approaches–carbon caps and trading schemes, offshore leases and moratoriums, short-term incentives for renewables, and so on—are woefully incapable of addressing our long term problem.

It’s easy to vilify oil and its producers, and it’s politically popular to call for an end to drilling, but replacing oil is far more difficult and expensive than anyone seems to understand.

Here’s the real challenge.

Within two to three years, global oil production will begin a long decline. As a rough rule of thumb, the world will lose roughly 25% of its oil supply in 25 years, 50% in 50 years, and 100% in 100 years.

It’s likely that we will also see the peaks of natural gas and coal in the next 20 years. Hydropower and nuclear will do little more than hold their current market share.

By the end of the century, nearly everything will have to be powered by renewably-generated electricity, not liquids or gases.

But scaling up renewables to take over for fossil fuels, and transitioning all the infrastructure, is going to be mind-bogglingly expensive, difficult, and slow. Renewables like solar and wind currently make up less than two percent of the world’s primary energy supply. It will take decades of effort and trillions of dollars in investment to offset a mere 20 percent of global demand with renewables, and we’ll have to do it in an environment of declining fossil fuel supply and shrinking economies.

For another rule of thumb, consider this: To compensate for the decline of oil alone using renewables, the world would need to build the equivalent of all the world’s existing renewable energy capacity, every year. Since that is impossible, efficiency and a long transition to renewably powered infrastructure must make up the shortfall. This will take 50 years or more to achieve.

If we use it wisely, offshore domestic oil could provide a crucial portion of the fuel we’ll need in order to build that new infrastructure. But if we remain in ignorance of our energy reality, letting politics be our guide and scapegoating oil companies upon their every misfortune, we’ll go down in flames as surely as the Horizon did.

One more tool in the deepwater toolbox, be it an acoustic shutoff device or something not even invented yet, will not solve our problems. Scapegoating drillers while we continue to pump gasoline into our tanks is unproductive and hypocritical. Hyping the size of marginal resources like shale without acknowledging their low flow rates is disingenuous. And championing alternatives that can’t even meet half a percent of our needs, like non-food biofuels, while trying to shut down the 10 percent of our supply that deepwater production provides, betrays a suicidal ignorance of our reality.

It’s time to wake up, put politics aside, get a grip on the scale of the problem and its solutions, and develop a serious energy plan.

Until next time,

Chris Nelder


Related Articles

Letter to Congress: We Need a Real Energy Plan
March 15, 2010
Energy analyst Chris Nelder writes a letter to Congress on behalf of the American people, asking for a real energy plan.


{blog-re-posted by David MacClement}

Posted by davd at 16:28 NZD
Updated: Sunday, 9 May 2010 16:41 NZD
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