Statoil and me
So I wrote to the CEO of Statoil, and 2 other key executives, congratulating them on their fine “oil is great and see how alternative energy savvy we are” web site, and the brilliant name they have chosen; “Energy Realities”. And I wrote how flattered I was that they chose such a great name – being the original energy realist. And how much more flattered I would be if they could transfer some of their oil cash to poor, realistic me.
The result is of course absolutely predictable – absolutely nothing.
Not even a tongue-in-cheek response by some underling thanking me for my letter and wishing me well? Come on Statoil you can do better than that
Happy New Year – about 300 energy audits done over the last 2 and a bit years. I’ve seen lots of houses from McMansions to tiny cottages. The owners are all interesting, most very pleasant.
They self-select as being interested in saving energy because they contact us, agree to have us spend hours in their house and pay a fee up front. Yet almost half decide not to go ahead with a project. Why?
It could be that I’m a lousy salesrep, but the statistics comparing to others don’t support that theory.
More likely it is a combination of factors;
- The cost of a project is relatively high, in the region of $10-20K
- We are still in times of economic uncertainty
- The rebates and 0% loans – very generous in New Jersey – still do not totally cover the costs and most people don’t have cash laying around.
- Boilers and insulation, even if we love them, are not very sexy. Air sealing is of course quite invisible. A new counter top or some window treatment is more satisfying.
- The price of energy is too low
The last item is the most important in my opinion. Sure, it’s great to have low energy costs and the impact on a fragile economy of increased prices would be painful. The prices are low partially because energy is still easily available (in the US) and because the costs are subsidized by all sorts of of direct and indirect support.
[Direct support such as tax incentives, exploration subsidies and much larger indirect support like leases on government land and payment of environmental and health effects by others – later]
For a home owner to really embrace a project they have to fall into one of three categories;
- The rebates and other incentives cover most of the project
- Their furnace or boiler is broken and they need a replacement today (and might as well collect the rebate…)
- They have a “green” philosophy and a ten year plus outlook on return on investment
OK then, on into another year, looking for these enlightened people – and thanks to all my previous clients.
More Sandy stuff
Power is back! We were very lucky. Other towns were hit so much worse. The FEMA distribution stations are busy, lines at fuel stations long. We pulled apart the fuel filler to the pickup truck to defeat the anti-siphon grid and get fuel out to power the generator.
Here are my videos of during and after (Warning: they are quite boring to start! But that’s how it was; very quiet until the late evening and then again not much damage around our house until we walked into town)
And here is some NOAA imagery. The first photo is from Keyport. You can see the boats all smooched into one corner of Pedersen’s yard and the two boats suspended from the bridge. Further down are some more dramatic images of the way the water carved new channels through existing suburbs.
Day 4 after Hurricane Sandy went through.
Unlike many others, and unlike buildings in the center of Keyport, we had minimal damage. It was not until I walked into town on Tuesday that we realized the extent of the destruction. In Keyport there is almost no damage from trees (Keyport trees have to be tough to stand the constant northerlies in winter), the damage is from the storm surge.
Watching the 10’ plus waves chew up the shore line on Monday night and seeing the amount of debris they threw up (from trees to boats to sections of dock) I realized that my measly few sand bags around the basement door were not going to do much.
With a lot of luck high tide turned at about 9:30 pm and the wind shifted to the east at much the same time. We were lucky…
I am trying to get videos up to YouTube, but no luck with the internet connection so far. Here are a couple of pictures during, and after.
I was not nearly as prepared as I should have been. The long electricity outage (it could be another week, maybe more…) means nothing works; no heat, no fridge (some bait in there really started to smell!), no internet (except on the cell phone), no traffic lights, no pumps, no cooktop, no microwave, no electric kettle, no TV etc. etc.
Back to my hobby horse; get those power lines underground! Sure it’s expensive, but look at the added security.
And the elections; one party promises some focus on energy conservation, renewable energy and all that green stuff. The other promises “North American” energy independence. Listen closely it does not say American independence, it says North American. In practice it means drill, baby drill, it means Canadian tar sands and a huge pipeline, it means more Mexican off-shore rigs in the gulf.
No wonder Statoil is launching that beautiful web site – see my previous entry.
More when I get power again – in all senses of the word.
This popped up on my screen – and, man, am I jealous! This is the site I would have liked to build. But then I don’t quite have the resources of Statoil, The Economist, New Scientist, Slate and National Geographic. Anyhow, nice of them to adopt the realist’s realistic approach.
It’s a mouthwatering web site. Have a look at this: (I seem to have a formatting problem embedding the graphic – will try to fix)
Here is another image from the site:
“Although not yet widely exploited, the kinetic energy in tidal currents has huge potential for generating electricity. SeaGen, the world’s first commercial-scale tidal turbine, has been operational in the waters of Strangford Lough (Northern Ireland) since 2008, producing enough power for 1,500 homes. Further installations of SeaGen systems are planned for Scottish and Canadian waters between now and 2020”
How, you ask, can the realist take time to surf the web and stumble on other web sites, when he should be out saving the world by selling insulation and boilers? Good question. Mea culpa. I thought maybe, over an early Sunday cup of coffee, I might be permitted….
“Statoil is an international energy company with operations in 36 countries. Building on 40 years of experience from oil and gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf, we are committed to accommodating the world’s energy needs in a responsible manner, applying technology and creating innovative business solutions. We are headquartered in Norway with approx. 21,000 employees worldwide, and are listed on the New York and Oslo stock exchanges.”
OK, so it’s an oil company. A Norwegian oil company; which counts for something in terms of ethics etc. If I read the reports at the time correctly Norwegian practices in blow-out preventers would not have allowed a spill like the BP Gulf of Mexico event. (Please note that I do not use the words disaster, fiasco or calamity – I am being cool and calm).
Statoil also has a web site to drool over. Lovely photography and videos, concern for the environment, support for the achievers of the next generation. It’s all good. The data on energyrealities should oslo be good given the fact checking prestige of the other sponsors.
Here is just one chart, and honestly, it is depressing.
Why depressing? Look at Australia; almost all fossil fuel. Look at France; looks great, but note it is “Alternative AND Nuclear”. France of course has the world’s highest percentage of nuclear energy. Look at Germany; despite their world lead in solar, and a strong push in wind power, they are still overwhelmingly fossil fuel dependent. (I think there is a problem with the site and I can’t scroll to any other countries)
Article in Slate Magazine about how alarmists, using suspect data, undermine legitimate concerns about genetically modified crops and global warming.
Article on the BBC about the uncertainties of predicting world population. Is the fertility reduction in economically advanced countries just a temporary blip? Evolutionary biology suggests that the more resources you have (i.e. the wealthier you are) the more fertile offspring you produce.
Could we really have 30 billion people on the earth?
“…forecasting population will always be a highly uncertain science. In 2004 the UN’s department of economic and social affairs tried to guess what the global population could be in 2300. It said the population would stabilise at around nine billion by 2050 and then remain at that level for the rest of the period. But that was just its medium estimate. Its high estimate was 36.4bn, and its low estimate just 2.3bn”
OK guys, time to stop reproducing!