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Eamon Keane  

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  • The Role of Biofuels in the Current Food Price Spike [View article]
    These are largely specious arguments. If we agree that global arable land, renewable water supply, phosphorus rock reserves, farming expertise, etc. is limited, then there is a clear opportunity cost to diverting any of these resources away from the task of basic food production.

    You will have seen the many varied signatories opposed to ethanol, because they recognise these resource limits (

    ActionAid US
    Africa Action
    Africa Faith and Justice
    Alabama Poultry and Egg Association
    Alliance of Western Milk Producers
    American Bakers Association
    American Conservative Union
    American Frozen Food Institute
    Americans for Limited Government
    Americans for Prosperity
    American Jewish World Service
    American Meat Institute
    Beyond Pesticides
    California Dairies, Inc.
    California Poultry Federation
    California Safe Schools
    Center for Auto Safety
    Center for Biological Diversity
    Center for Food Safety
    Clean Air Task Force
    Clean Water Action
    Citizens for Tax Justice
    Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
    Competitive Enterprise Institute
    Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
    Dairy Producers of New Mexico
    Dairy Producers of Utah
    Environment America
    Environmental Working Group
    Foreign Policy in Focus
    Freedom Action
    Friends of the Earth
    Heartland Institute
    Georgia Poultry Federation
    Greenpeace USA
    Grocery Manufacturers Association
    Idaho Dairymen’s Association
    Indiana State Poultry Association
    International Center for Technology Assessment
    International Dairy Foods Association
    John Locke Foundation
    Leadership Conference of Women Religious
    League of Conservation Voters
    Marynoll Office of Global Concern
    Milk Producers Council
    Mississippi Poultry Association
    National Audubon Society
    National Catholic Rural Life Conference
    National Council of Chain Restaurants
    National Chicken Council
    National Meat Association
    National Restaurant Association
    National Retail Federation
    National Taxpayers Union
    National Turkey Federation
    National Wildlife Federation
    Natural Resources Defense Council
    NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
    North Carolina Poultry Federation
    Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance
    Northeast Organic Farming Association — Interstate Council (NOFA-IC)
    Northwest Environmental Defense Center
    Northwest Dairy Association
    Oil Change International
    Oxfam America
    Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT)
    The Poultry Federation
    Public Citizen
    Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
    Safe Climate Campaign
    The SafeLawns Foundation
    Sierra Club
    Snack Food Association
    Southeast Milk Inc.
    Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
    Southern Horticulture
    Taxpayers for Common Sense
    Tennessee Poultry Association
    Texas Poultry Federation
    U.S. Poultry and Egg Association
    Union of Concerned Scientists
    Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth
    Virginia Poultry Federation
    Washington Cattle Feeders Association
    Washington State Dairy Federation
    The Watershed Partnership
    World Wildlife Fund
    Mar 10, 2011. 03:13 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Role of Biofuels in the Current Food Price Spike [View article]
    Good point, I was aware that both the subsidy and the RFS had to be removed, which was why I referenced it earlier, but that sentence is clearly misleading. It is probably too much to expect a repeal of the RFS in the short term, medium/long term I believe it will.
    Mar 10, 2011. 09:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Role of Biofuels in the Current Food Price Spike [View article]
    While I have some sympathy for small farmers, as you know, most of the subsidy goes to large farmers ( :

    "In spite of the predominance of family farms, there is strong evidence of a trend toward concentration in agricultural production. By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data). That number was down from almost 62,000 in 1992."

    The silver lining in this is that because biofuels are so retarded, it's not a question of if they will be stopped, but when. This gives us breathing space for food production. Conversely, it brings an oil crunch that much closer, however it's a lot easier to ameliorate that when push comes to shove.
    Mar 9, 2011. 04:31 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 7 Reasons Crude Is Going to $80/Barrel [View article]
    Some people really need to come to Jesus and renounce the specious oil-gas ratio mean reversion meme.

    I mean, yeah, it might happen, but not because of a significant oil displacement by NG. There is currently 0.1 mb/d of gas to liquids. The IEA WEO 'current policies scenario' shows this rising to 0.3 mb/d by 2020 and 1 mb/d by 2035. Here is their take on it:

    "Gas-to-liquids (GTL) is a relatively mature technology, but experienced an upsurge in interest in the early to mid-2000s as a result of technological advances and higher oil prices. However, some technical problems with the commissioning of a new plant in Qatar and a sharp rise in construction costs, together with increased interest in LNG, which competes with GTL for gas feedstock, have led to many planned GTL projects being shelved in the last few years. Some projects are, nonetheless, under construction and we assume that several others, now at the planning stage, will also be commissioned. The current low price of gas and the persistent large price differential between gas and oil prices that we assume in our projections could lead to a resurgence of interest in GTL, with producers diversifying their portfolios with more ways of monetising gas in order to mitigate the risks of price fluctuations.

    However, the lengthy time scales involved in design, approval, construction and start-up of new large plants are likely to lead to slow growth in production. In the New Policies Scenario, GTL production rises from about 50 kb/d in 2009 to almost 200 kb/d in 2015 and to nearly 750 kb/d in 2035 (Figure 4.8)."

    On NGVs:

    "Today, natural gas vehicles are common in only a few countries and the global use of compressed natural gas ( as a road fuel is tiny (see Chapter 3). The biggest potential lies with heavy-duty vehicles (trucks and buses), as the costs of installing refuelling infrastructure for light-duty vehicles and adapting cars to run on gas are likely to limit the growth of CNG use in light vehicles. There is scope for increased CNG consumption in countries with an established market, notably in non-OECD Asia and Latin America.

    But the potential may be greatest in North America, where
    abundant supplies of unconventional gas are expected to hold gas prices down in the coming years, making CNG an attractive alternative to diesel for heavy-duty vehicles. Nonetheless, the take-off of CNG use even there is likely to be slow, in view of the need to develop distribution facilities. In the New Policies Scenario, we project North American gas use for road transport to grow from 0.9 bcm in 2008 to 12 bcm by 2035, with global use rising from 18 bcm to 61 bcm over the same period."

    You can argue that NGVs will happen sooner, but quite unlikely to be so quick as to have a material impact within 5 years. There's hardly any oil used in electricity generation, so natty can't displace any oil there. So let's please learn to just say no to the oil-gas ratio.
    Feb 28, 2011. 01:46 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wind Turbines: Actually a Commodity Industry [View article]
    Chris, you clearly know a lot about wind. I had thought the figure to be near 99% of the installed wind capacity were non-REE, however this article in a German wind magazine states that the figure may be more like 86% are non-REE:

    "Of the 158 gigawatts of wind power installed worldwide in 2009 accounted for an estimated 14 percent to gearless systems."

    What do you think?
    Article is here, use google translate in Chrome to translate (
    Feb 21, 2011. 11:48 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wind Turbines: Actually a Commodity Industry [View article]
    600 kg/MW is too much. This article on renewable energy world, for example, quotes "up to 200 kg" per MW (www.renewableenergywor...)

    Also, you are suggesting that rare earth based technology is the current industry standard, while in fact few turbines at present use rare earths. However it does have distinct advantages for offshore.

    None of which refutes your point that offshore wind will be reliant on hefty government support for the foreseeable future.
    Feb 20, 2011. 09:18 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Taking Stock of Phosphorus and Biofuels [View article]
    Thanks bob, good links. You may have seen the September 2010 phosphorus report from the International Fertilizer Development Center (

    They basically state peak phosphorus to be a non-issue. It's a strong conclusion to make, since they did no original research, just a literature review of old (pre 1990) phosphorus reserve estimates.
    Feb 15, 2011. 05:33 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Gaining Perspective on Electric Vehicles and the Natural Resource Cliff [View article]
    While resource scarcity may be an issue, I don't think comparing per capita consumption in kg is a good metric.

    The average material content of a 2008 model America car was 4,070 pounds or 1,850kg. The % breakdown in content is:


    Regular steel: 40%
    High and medium strength steel: 12.9%
    Stainless steel: 1.8%
    Other steels: 0.8%
    Iron castings: 7.4%
    Aluminium: 7.7%
    Magnesium castings: 0.3%
    Copper and brass: 1.6%
    Lead: 1.1%
    Zinc castings: 0.2%
    Powder metal parts: 1.1%
    Other metals: 0.1%
    Plastics and plastic composites: 8.4%
    Rubber: 4.5%
    Coatings: 0.7%
    Textiles: 1.2%
    Fluids and lubricants: 5.3%
    Glass: 2.6%
    Other materials: 2.2%

    The 70m or so cars sold last year would have consumed, using the American average (1 tonne per car), 70m tonnes. The global steel output last year was 1.4 billion tonnes, so cars represent just 5% of global steel consumption. Global steel output is still rising, and with lightweighting and some downsizing or car volume, the current 70m tonnes could support over 200m cars per year.

    For copper and brass, the average vehicle contains 30kg. A typical battery is 10 kg/ kWh (100 Wh/kg) of which 4% is copper or 0.4kg/kWh. The other incremental copper (in the region of another 30kg) for the motor and power electronics is fully recyclable. For a 24kWh vehicle, the battery will consume about 10kg/EV. Equipping all 70m vehicles would require 0.7m tonnes of copper. Global production last year was 16.2m tonnes, so that's potentially 4% of production lost if it's not recyclable.

    An EV with a DC brushless motor like the Leaf will require an additional 40g dysprosium. 70m of these would require 2,800 tonnes dysprosium, or roughly double last year's production. 70m Priuses, with their large motors, would also require a similar amount. Large amounts of new dysprosium are unlikely to come online at least in the medium term, so automakers may be forced to switch to AC induction motors which are a few % less efficient.

    The marginal utility of metals, I would suggest, is highest in cars since it reduces oil which is definitely scarce. The response to a shortage of a given metal may well be to reduce its use in other sectors such as buildings. Most NdFeB magnets and dysprosium is used in hard disk drives. Flash memory has no rare earths, so perhaps a move to this would free up more dysprosium for EVs.
    Feb 7, 2011. 07:15 AM | 11 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Jason Miklian wins big on the spectacular rise of rare earth stocks, recognizes the bubble, but loses it all betting on the collapse too soon. Looking behind the hype, Miklian reminds of the highly speculative and not terribly savory nature of smaller mining companies.  [View news story]
    Christ, this dude hasn't the first clue about rare earths:

    "[Rare Element Resource's] first actual sale of rare earths won't happen until 2015, long after the other 20 rare-earth companies further along in the production process have locked up all the major buyers."

    It is incumbent upon informed day traders to part him from his money.
    Jan 22, 2011. 02:10 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Are Critical Energy Metals a One-Way Bet? [View article]
    Thanks Doc, although there's no way now I could share a stage with Jack Lifton, maybe some day!

    The technologies are already there. The 1899 Porsche hybrid functioned before dysprosium was first isolated in the 1950s or the NdFeB magnet introduced in 1984.

    It's just a design compromise - the alternative AC motor is somewhat bulkier and a few % less efficient than NdFeB. A million HEVs/EVs will use up about 3% of global dysprosium supply.

    Hard disk drives use up a third of NdFeB, so if they were to be replaced with solid-state memory, this would free up some supply.
    Jan 16, 2011. 11:37 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    They actually provide an analysis of their past forecasts here ( On average over the last 30 years, they're been 60% off on oil prices, 70% off on natural gas prices, and 7% off on oil imports.

    The forecast is made via a model. A model maps assumptions to conclusions. They make a suite of assumptions, and then, via a model, the numbers you see pop out.
    Jan 9, 2011. 11:56 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    I think they are included, although it is assumed that vehicle kms increases by 1.6% per year, so there is some cancelling (

    "The economic effectiveness of all fuel technologies are evaluated on the basis of a 3-year payback period using a real discount rate of 15 percent.

    Fuel economy standards reflect current law through model year 2011. For model years 2012 through 2016, fuel econony standards reflect NHTSA and EPA's proposed standards. For model years 2017 through 2020, the standards reflect EIA assumed increases that ensure a light vehicle combined fuel economy of 35 mpg is achieved by model 2020. For model years 2021 though 2030, fuel economy standards are held constant at model year 2020 levels with fuel economy improvements still possible based on an economic cost benefit analysis only.

    Expected future fuel prices are calculated based on an extrapolation of the growth rate between a five year moving average of fuel price 3 years and 4 years prior to the present year. This assumption is founded upon an assumed lead time of 3 to 4 years to significantly modify the vehicles offered by a manufacturer
    Jan 9, 2011. 11:46 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration: Electric Drive Forecasts Running in Reverse Since 2009 [View article]
    Quite passive indeed. The most dubious data point I'd suggest is that net oil imports will remain constant at 9.5 mb/d through 2035.
    Jan 9, 2011. 10:18 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • China's move to slash export quotas on rare earth minerals raises fresh international trade concerns. Sony (SNE) vows to reduce its reliance, but for other firms, the Chinese action provides a boost: Molycorp (MCP +6.4%) shares continue their wild ride, and Lynas (LYSCF +15%) soars even though it won't be able to mine any material from a new lode in Australia for at least a year.  [View news story]
    Good point. Here you have to make a judgement: (a) How many hybrid cars will be sold in 2015 and (b) Will future hybrid cars use NiMH batteries or Li-ion.

    If you believe strong hybrid demand and that Li-ion is not going to take off, then you can take Lynas' forecast from Figure 16 and there may be significant undersupply. The opposite view is by Jon Hykawy of Byron Capital Markets. The other two forecasts take a middle of the road and show a small surplus. How all this translates to market prices or how much of a security premium there will be is anyone's guess.
    Dec 29, 2010. 03:38 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Rare Earth Oxides About to Become More Rare [View article]
    jimp, have you seen Jon Hykawy's critique of Quest here?


    What do you make of that?
    Dec 29, 2010. 03:08 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment