Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Wood-burners – The high cost of using 1860s and 1930s technology for heating, illumination, and cooking

The cutting edge of renewable energy is chopping down trees, chipping them, loading the chips onto a truck, transporting to a brand new plant, and burning them.

Yes, burning trees to read your paper at night, illuminate your office during the day, and (for some) cooking dinner. The new technology is called biomass.

That’s the same power source used by Abraham Lincoln when he was going to school. His family used wood for cooking, heating, and illumination.

In fact, as recently as when my dad was growing up on a farm, the family used wood for cooking and heating. Thanks to John Rockefeller, they were able to use kerosene for illumination. They would buy coal to keep the house warm overnight. Wood was the sole cooking source and primary heating source.

Public Service of New Hampshire has a new wood-burner fully online. I calculate it will cost New Hampshire residents an extra 1 or 2  cents a kilowatt-hour.

For the next 20 years.

New wood-burner plant at full capacity

Read more…

If you want to increase the number of large animals like elephants and rhinos, allow them to be privately owned and hunted

Kenya and South Africa have taken dramatically different approaches in how to protect large animals.

May not make sense, but I have a plan for you if you want to protect big critters, like rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, and buffalos (the big 5) along with antelopes and zebras.

What to do? Take South Africa’s approach and allow private ownership of the animals and allow other people to pay the owners of the animals to hunt them.

Like I said, it doesn’t make sense, but incentives matter. And if you want to protect big animals, give individuals incentives to do so.

Kenya and South Africa provide a natural experiment to see which approach works best.

The following information is from two articles:


Kenya bans private ownership of large animals and bans hunting. The country focuses on conservation with funding provided by eco-tourism.

How has that worked?

Read more…

Germany’s plans for renewable energy

Germany is in the midst of moving toward getting 40% to 45% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which is six years from now. The goal for the whole of EU is 35%. By 2050, the German goal is 80% from renewable. They plan to do this with zero reliance on nuclear energy.

Some of the destructive implications are spelled out in detail by the Wall Street Journal article, Germany’s Expensive Gamble on Renewable Energy. The article more explanation than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Here are a few summarized highlights. If you are interested in reading the rest of my article, you will really want to check out the full WSJ article. It is excellent.

Higher costs

Read more…

Congressional Medal of Honor approved and soon to be awarded for three amazing heroes

Congress has waived the time limit to award the Medal of Honor for another three heroes. The President will soon issue the Medals, each for amazing and tremendous service far above and way beyond the call of duty.

Here is my feeble tribute to these incredible men.

1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing

Lt Cushing, West Point class of 1961, stood his ground at the battle of Gettysburg. Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 8/26

Just like the wild west in the late 1800s, the frontiers of private space exploration, energy and technology are wide open. Here are a few of the articles that stretched my understanding of this amazing world we live in. A brief comment on each.


8/21 – Wall Street Journal – Mining Asteroids and Exploiting the New Space Economy – Dr. K. Dean Larson – Asteroids contain water, titanium, iron, platinum, and lots of other resources needed to build things and sustain life in space. What’s the big deal?

Read more…

Does the Ivanpah solar facility toast 642 or 28,000 birds a year? Solar #24



(Photo by James Ulvog)

Officials from Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System report there were 321 dead birds found on the site in the first six months of operation. Annualizing that would imply 642 birds will die each year at the facility shown above.

Is that the total of birds killed at the site? Let me ask you a few questions.

  • Is the total number of drunk drivers on the road determined by looking at the official FBI statistics on DUI arrests?
  • Is the extent of insider trading equal to the number of SEC enforcement actions filed?
  • Is the total amount of criminal behavior leading up to the 2008 great recession equal to the number of criminal indictments issued by the Justice Department (which is zero if you didn’t know)?

If you answered yes to all of those three questions then you will certainly agree that the grand total of birds killed at Ivanpah is limited to the reported amount of 321 in six months, or around 600 a year.

On the other hand, if you think the number of drunk drivers is greater than the number arrested or if you believe there is actually more insider trading going on than the SEC prosecutes, then the question is to what extent are the toasted wings undercounted at Ivanpah.

Causes of undercount

Read more…

And now, live from Williston…

Bruce Oksol arrived in Williston today. He is the author of Million Dollar Way blog. He will be in town 7 or 10 days and (hopefully) will be posting a lot of articles while he is there.

First report, Arrived Safely in Williston, ND, The Heart of the Bakken describes the visible growth.

By the way, his blog has been one of the major sources of education for me since I started paying attention to the energy revolution. If you’ve been reading my blog for the energy news, you really ought to check out his blog regularly. Maybe even set it up on an RSS feed so you automatically get all his posts.

Illustration of creative destruction: lots of Fortune 500 companies disappeared over the last 60 years

What sets apart each of these groups of companies?

Group A: American Motors, Brown Shoe, Studebaker, Collins Radio, Detroit Steel, Zenith Electronics, and National Sugar Refining.

Group B: Boeing, Campbell Soup, General Motors, Kellogg, Proctor and Gamble, Deere, IBM and Whirlpool.

Group C: Facebook, eBay, Home Depot, Microsoft, Office Depot and Target.

Mark Perry, writing at Carpe Diem, explains: Fortune 500 firms in 1955 vs. 2014; 89% are gone, and we’re all better off because of that dynamic ‘creative destruction’.

Read more…

Update on green energy – 8/20

Just a few articles on green energy that caught my eye.

8/7 -WSJ – Wind Power Hopes for Sea Change – Lots of delays and cost overruns building the large off-shore wind farms in Europe. The Meerwind facility had 80 turbines located 50 miles offshore. Getting the electricity to shore takes converters that cost a billion Euros each. Article doesn’t say how many are needed for 80 turbines.

Economics are a bit of a problem. From the article:

Read more…

Astounding progress everywhere in everything over last 50 years – No better time to be alive than today.

As a break from the dreary news headlines, consider the progress made over the last 50 years in a variety of areas.

Matt Ridley offers a lot of Reasons to be cheerful.

Here is an overview:

Compared with any time in the past half century, the world as a whole is today wealthier, healthier, happier, cleverer, cleaner, kinder, freer, safer, more peaceful and more equal.

Read more…

Production in 3 biggest US oil fields – Aug. ’14


(Photo by James Ulvog. Four wells on a pad was big news only a short while ago. Now 4 is a small site.)

Only 10 oil fields have surpassed a production level of one million barrels a day. Currently three of them are running in the U.S.:  Bakken, Eagle Ford, and Permian.

I’ve been wanting to find a source for Eagle Ford production. After reading a Carpe Diem post (which I can’t find again), I found a great source: the Energy Information Administration’s Drilling Productivity Report. Check out the second tab, Production by region, and the report data on the right side of the page.

Here is the production for the three top regions, in average daily production for each month from January 2007 through September 2014. Data for the last three months is estimated.

3 field production 8-14

Two notes on the data.

Read more…

North Dakota oil production up 5% in June 2014

Bakken IMG_0652 8-15

(Photo by James Ulvog)

Production in the state hit an average of 1,092,617 barrels per day (bopd) in June 2014, up from a revised 1,040,469 in May. That’s an increase of 5.01%. Since December, that would be an 18.7% increase. Not bad for six months.

Even better, Bakken-only production passed the one million point – 1,028,352 bopd.

Here are two graphs showing the production trend.

Production by month since 2008, showing total for the state and Bakken-only:

ND production june 14

Total production by month since 1990:

Read more…

More good stuff on the open frontiers – 8/15

Just like the wild west in the late 1800s, the frontiers of publishing, technology, and energy are wide open. Here’s a few of the articles that stretched my understanding of this amazing world we live in. Just a brief comment on each.

Downside of technology

Yes, there is a downside.

7/30 – Yahoo – Drone Carrying contraband crashes at SC prison – Drone carrying cell phones, marijuana, synthetic marijuana (huh? what is that?), and tobacco crashed outside the fence of a prison. Article mentions a successful effort to get contraband inside a Georgia prison last year.

Read more…

More good stuff on the Bakken – 8/11

Here’s a few quick notes on interesting news that I won’t cover in a separate post:

7/25 – PR Newswire – More than 30% Growth in Shale Oil Output in Bakken, Eagle Ford: Platts’ Bentek Energy – In June ’14, increase of prior year June production was 28.9% in Bakken and 37.6% in Eagle Ford. Compared to where I was four years ago, if I saw that report fresh today, I would write a full length post on that one article. Today, that is old news for me.

Internal rate of return is above 50% in Bakken and 65% in Eagle Ford. The article explains what that means: Read more…

Washington state regulation of pot sales – edibles rules, taxes on taxes, and how do you deliver product?

I am watching the legalized markets for marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado. I think this is a natural experiment in regulation. How well does a new industry develop when it is under heavy regulation?

Some additional info:

7/21 – KCET – The New Frontier of Marijuana Edibles Regulation – The author seems to know his way around a California-based medical marijuana dispensary, noting they are looking more like a corner grocery store these days, what with all the edible products on the shelf.

He describes some of the edibles issues in Colorado and Washington.

Read more…

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