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Big Oil: 'World has reached peak petroleum'

Half of oil and gas CFOs say we are peaking

It's amazing enough that the normally staid International Energy Agency recently said we've run out of time. Now Business Wire reports: According to a new survey by BDO Seidman, LLP, one of the nation's leading accounting and consulting organizations, 48 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) at U.S. oil and gas exploration and production companies agree that the world has reached its peak petroleum (liquid hydrocarbon) production rate or will reach it within the next few years, while another 52 percent disagree with that statement. I think the headline is wrong, though: Energy CFOs Are Split on World's Peak Petroleum …

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From Detroit with love

A photo tour of the green concepts and cars from North American Int'l Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show opened in Detroit with a bang. Literally. Apparently, the Chrysler Pentastar fell from the ceiling and startled a cluster of journalists as well as billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and his entourage. No one was hurt, but the portentous crash may be more than symbolic for the American auto industry if their bets on electric and hybrid vehicles fail to deliver, or if China's BYD motors beats them to the punch with their plug-in F3DM. Though subdued -- Chrysler left the steer back at the ranch this year -- the more "rational" Detroit Auto Show …

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Tempest in a stock pot

White House chefs and the limits of personal choice

About a month ago, high-profile foodies got pretty amped up about whom Obama would choose as White House chef. Three of them -- Berkeley sustainable food doyenne Alice Waters, Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, and New York City restaurateur Denny Mayer -- even got together to pen a letter urging the incoming president to replace the current White House chef with someone who chooses locally grown, organic food -- preferably sourced from an on-site vegetable garden. According to a New York Times account, the letter states: A person of integrity who is devoted to the ideals of sustainability and health would …

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China's BYD to bring plug-in hybrid, electric cars to U.S. in 2011

DETROIT, Michigan, Jan. 12, 2009 (AFP) -- China's BYD Auto announced plans Monday to enter the U.S. market in 2011 with a range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It would likely be the first Chinese automaker to enter the highly-competitive U.S. market and beat many established automakers in offering an extended-range electric vehicle to U.S. consumers. General Motors, Chrysler, and Nissan are expected to be the first to introduce electric cars in small quantities to the United States in 2010. Toyota expects to introduce a plug-in hybrid at the end of this year and a two-seater electric car in …

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Coal-fired power: Still expensive

Another rate increase in the name of cheap coal

Duke Energy just got approval to raise rates 18 percent to cover the continued rising price tag for its 630-MW planned coal plant in southwestern Indiana. The new price tag? $2.35 billion, or $3,730/kW. By my highly unscientific but quixotically regular analysis, that's a new record, just topping AEP's $3,700/kW proposed facility in Virginia. Way to go, Duke! One note: This plant will not sequester its CO2, and $2.35 billion does not represent the full cost being borne by Indiana ratepayers: On Wednesday, the commission also approved Duke Energy's $17 million plan to study the plant's potential to capture a …

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Greenpeace grades gadgets unveiled at CES

LAS VEGAS -- Consumer electronics manufacturers are making greener products than a year ago but more progress needs to be made before they can claim a truly environmentally friendly product, Greenpeace said Friday. In its second greener products survey, "Green Electronics: The Search Continues," the environmental activist group assessed the progress made by consumer electronic companies in greening their products over the past year. The Greenpeace survey was released at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where manufacturers have been seeking to outdo one another this year in touting how green their products are. The CES organizers …

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Nuclear cost study, part 3

Responding to Heritage's staggeringly confused 'rebuttal'

Part 1 presented a new study by power plant cost expert Craig Severance that puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour -- triple current U.S. electricity rates! Those ideologically promiscuous folks at the Heritage Foundation have replied with "New Study on Staggering Cost of Nuclear Energy, Staggeringly Pessimistic." Craig's point by point response follows a few of my comments. Heritage is a leader of the conservative movement stagnation. They have written "the only thing a green 'New Deal' will do is lead us down a Green Road to Serfdom," …

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Nuclear warning to taxpayers, investors, part 2

Nukes may become troubled assets, ruin credit ratings

Part 1 presented a new study that puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour -- triple current U.S. electricity rates! Nuclear plants with such incredibly expensive electricity and "out of control" capital costs, as Time put it, obviously create large risks for utilities, their investors, and, ultimately taxpayers. Congress extended huge loan guarantees to new nukes in 2005, and the American people will be stuck with another huge bill if those plants join the growing rank of troubled assets. The risk to utilities who start down the new nuke …

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VRB Power files for bankruptcy

VRB's long-life flow battery was a reliable electricity storage alternative for renewable energy

VRB Power applied for insolvency in November [PDF]. A combination of a bad economy and a product that was more suited for future markets than today's electricity generators dealt VRB the final blow. This is bad news for the green energy community. VRB built flow batteries -- utility scale batteries that could last for over 10,000 full charges and discharges. Cost was from $650 per kWh for small-scale systems to as a little as $300 per kWh for large-scale systems. Admittedly the latter price was for larger systems than anyone ever ordered. It was the perfect utility-scale battery: too heavy …

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Bailing out Bidder 70

Tim DeChristopher and Utah stand up to Big Oil

I've never been big on rules. Neither, apparently, is Tim DeChristopher. He's the young activist who just completely derailed the Bush administration's plans to sell more of our public lands to the oil companies. He sat in the lease sale in Salt Lake City on Dec. 19 and "bought" 22,500 acres of public lands right out from under the suits from Chevron and Exxon. One small problem -- Tim doesn't actually have the money. It almost doesn't matter, though, because he's monkeywrenched the process so thoroughly that they won't be able to conduct another sale until after the Obama administration …