Sunday, June 20, 2021

First we bail out Detroit – then we bail out the oil patch

Channeling Leonard Cohen on Father's Day...

... Well, it's Father's Day, and everybody's wounded
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

This week's US rig count is 470; a year ago it was 266 (having plummeted from over 900 at the beginning of 2020). That 470, a far cry from what it was before Covid, is a harbinger of high prices and gas lines like 1973. It's just a matter of time. 

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC...

First we bail out Detroit

Millennials are buying fewer cars and cities around the world are banning cars from their central districts; Covid motivated people to work from home and drive less. Seeing all these looming threats to the automotive market, Biden et al are on a roll to bail out Detroit with a big push for electric cars (not sustainable with fossil-fuel-intensive manufacturing, but still a well-meaning friendly gesture to corporate America and union jobs). 

But what can governments do for the oil patch?

Then we bail out the oil patch

Here comes the IEA's get-off-oil report on the threat of uncontrollable climate change, the Dutch court ruling against Royal Dutch Shell on climate issues, and the ExxonMobile board of directors fight to bring about a response to climate change. 

Imagine that most intelligent oil company leaders know full well their days are numbered with peak oil breathing down their necks. Now all of a sudden they have a cover story: climate change. Under that smoke screen (literally), they can carry on with all kinds of shenanigans. For starters, governments can now begin subsidizing them to get off oil and into renewables.

There may be other ways to scoot down the slippery right-hand slope of the Hubbert curve without killing civilization, but this one just might get enough votes for all of us to squeak by.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

More about Windows

A note from a friend raised an important point:
The most efficient solar is the sun warming things, right?

That is not how Title 24 thinks, which can drive up energy use. Basically Title 24 assumes outside inputs are bad and the way to manage temperature is to seal a house from the outside - and as efficiently as possible use energy inside. This is based on a lifestyle assumption – that you need to live at a constant temperature. If you are OK with letting the sun in to heat your home and having temperature vary by 10º or 15º over the course of a day Title 24 works against you by limiting glass area while mandating sun blocking windows and roof insulation that prevents internal solar gain.
Yes, he's right and that's a long story. The good news is that Title 24 offers the alternative of demonstrating performance compliance through good design.

So you can hire folks who know what they're doing and prepare calculations which show compliance.  Here are a couple of short web pages explaining the basics:
The most challenging detail to grasp is the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Window manufacturers don't want to confuse people with too much information, so they train their sales forces to promote "one size fits all" and for God's sake, don't let the sun come in and fade your drapes and furniture!

So if the customer says "energy conservation," they will get low-e glass (good insulation) with the standard _low_ solar heat gain—which works well on the southwest or west sides of the home, but for windows on the south, very little heat will come in during the winter when it's needed.

You can read glowing reports (such as US DOE's Energy Star propaganda) that will confuse you even more. So instead, here are a couple of articles (one from Canada where there are 4 seasons) explaining why you will want to specify the high solar heat gain coefficient on your south-facing windows:
All the more reason to know your home's compass headings... North-South, East-West.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Responding to climate emergency with a sense of agency

I thought I had misread the statement below, written and submitted to me today by one of the fellows in the Spartan Superway who has just graduated and is considering his next move:
"As a young person, [I see] all projections point to catastrophic climate destabilization in my lifetime. It has never been more critical to have a sense of agency about carbon emissions."
Don't you mean, "a sense of urgency"?

Oops, au contraire, he meant just what he wrote: a sense of agency "is the subjective awareness of initiating, executing, and controlling one's own volitional actions in the world...."

Can we really afford to invest a scarce minute of our precious time to better engineer fossil fuel use? If not us, who can deliver a turn-it-around solution for our children's sake? What might happen if we just say no to coal?

Are we young enough to care about their (our) future?
"Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now-w-w-w."
                                                                 My Back Pages, Bob Dylan

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cities are ruining our cars

An article in Verge claims that "Self-driving cars are on a collision course with our crappy cities" as if to say cities are ruining the possibilities for our fancy new self-driving cars.

¡No! Au contraire, cars are ruining our cities! Letting Google be the driver won't change that. In fact, it could get much worse.

Consider the author's statement of the obvious: "[R]ide-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, are shockingly creating more traffic problems than they are curing," as if to say this fact could somehow be fixed if cities would only do things differently.

¡No! An on-demand taxi service carrying one passenger will deliver less than 1 person per vehicle-mile (km) by definition: the back seat has to be empty ("dead-head") en route to picking up the fare-paying passenger. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fossil Fuel Free Nations

Several nations have declared their intent to become fossil-fuel-free. In this post you can find websites and news articles with more details about this international movement.
NOPEC The theme of Non-Oil, Power-Exporting Countries ("NOPEC") was first presented online in 1989:
Several papers about NOPEC and the goal of 100% renewable energy have been presented at ASES and ISES conferences, and in Solar Today magazine since that time:
Several organizations have been helping to organize international commitments to 100% renewable energy:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Wall. How Tall?

The Donald wants to build a wall and he wants them to pay for it.

What a pity. If they pay for it, they will own it. If they own it, they will make billions!

The Donald wants to give away all the profits that could have been destined for America. And he wants to build it 30-40 feet high. That's to be expected from a man who thinks small, but there's little profit to be made in such a limited and limiting project.

Let's be ambitious. Let's build a wall 30-40 stories tall, from Tijuana / San Diego to Matamoros / Brownsville, something like this: 

Linear City architecture by Gilles Gauthier
Linear City architecture by Gilles Gauthier
We're talking about 1,989 miles (3,201 kilometers) of linear city.

This is not a new idea...

Roadtown, 1910
"I would take the apartment house and all its conveniences and comforts
out among the farms by the aid of wires, pipes and of
rapid and noiseless transportation."
Edgar Chambless, Roadtown, 1910

And there's plenty of support for the idea, including City Mayors from around the world.

Along the Rio Grande, it could look like this...

Arcosanti along the Rio Grande by Paulo Solari
Paolo Soleri
Now what does this have to do with solar nations? Well, take a look at this ...

Map of Mexico South of USA South of Canada

As you can see from the map, Mexico is south of the USA. So all the offices, shopping centers, condos, and podcar networks on the Wall will face south — from one end to the other.

Windows South from the Anasazi Mesa Verde to George Washington Thomas Jefferson
... and properly sized overhangs will shade the south-facing windows
from the high summer sun.
(See more at the Windows South website.)
Now you might ask how everyone in a high rise can have south-facing windows. Aren't half of the units going to face north?

Nope, not if we take Michael Graves' approach:

Michael Graves design
Grounds for Sculpture, Michael Graves

... which was modeled after Unite d' Habitation in Marseilles, the architectural scheme originally developed in 1952 by Le Corbusier:

... in which all units had both south and north façades.

You can learn more by exploring the Four Donkey Method of Bioclimatic Design.
Plus there will be Solar Skyways running continuously along the entire route, eliminating the need for Mexican Oil ... or oil of any sort, for that matter.

And Solar Powered General Transportation's podcar platoon


The election hasn't happened yet, so the future of "the wall" is to be determined. For now, I can say this much:
  • The expansion of a border wall is ludicrous – and an environmental disaster to boot. 
  • On the other hand, more livable border cities? Well that might be worth further consideration.
  • Solar-oriented buildings (along the border or otherwise) will bring greater comfort and reduce border tensions.
  • Solar transportation will help the energy transition (whether in linear cities or where you live now).
  • Good design can give bright, sunny, comfortable living spaces featuring functional, effective south and north facades.
  • If, in order to pass through the border, you must have dinner with someone living in the linear city, then people on both sides will become better neighbors. 
Let's build solar powered cities, along the border and beyond!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The US DOT-Advocacy or monopoly?

We have a lot to think about...
An Act in Relation to Removal of Obstructions to Navigation in the Mouth of the Mississippi River
"What a vast field would the exercise of this power open for jobbing and corruption! Members of Congress, from an honest desire to promote the interest of their constituents, would struggle for improvements within their own districts, and the body itself must necessarily be converted into an arena where each would endeavor to obtain from the Treasury as much money as possible for its own locality.  The temptation would prove irresistible."

President Buchanan's veto message, February 1860
Eight presidents have proclaimed foreign oil to be an enemy.

The US Department of Energy has a "sustainable transportation" program within its EERE Office. Is there money for sustainable transportation within that program?

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies$105 m
Bioenergy Technologies279 m
Vehicle Technologies468 m

What do you think?