peak oil

PV Modules


 This just in from resident Net Zero House expert and Edmonton green leader Bob Heath:

The latest issue of Home Power magazine has an article entitled "Blast From The Past" written by Martin Holladay. He tested a 33 watt PV module that he had bought in 1980 for $275.00 US. He found that the module was still performing at better than factory spec. A quote from the article - "A PV cell is a rock that makes electricity."
Another quote from the same issue of HP - "A PV module is the closest thing we have to perpetual motion [and] is the most reliable electric generator in the known universe." —Joel Davidson, SOLutions in Solar Electricity

Germany will install 6,000,000 kilowatts of PV modules this year. Shouldn’t we Albertans also be investing in these en masse in order to make our electricity supply more resilient (not to mention greener) in a future of declining fossil fuel availability?

The long slow decline of Alberta has begun

I'm a born and raised Albertan. I love this province and I'm proud of it's natural features. Having said that, I was shocked to see a recent article in the Edmonton Journal about how Alberta has started importing natural gas from the United States: Scarcity drives deal for imports

To be honest, I thought this should have been front page news.

Richard Heinberg's Edmonton Talk

I don’t think that anyone explains the predicament that we humans are in more clearly and intelligently than Richard Heinberg. I was disappointed to miss his Edmonton talk in February, but lo and behold, the entire thing was captured on youtube for our viewing pleasure (by no less than the City of Edmonton itself).

I watched all six 9-minute videos, and I recommend them to everybody.

Heinberg tells it like it is:


Natural Gas and Hard Limits

North American Natural Gas Production as of 2002


"It’s not that hard to predict what will happen in the future (I will die; Fifi, my son Fallon’s stuffed orca, will eventually need restuffing, etc.) but it is very hard to predict with any accuracy when things will happen."

Robert X. Cringely (in a recent blog post)


In 2003, the AUMA held a conference called the Alberta Municipal Energy Efficiency & Greenhouse Gas Conference. I always laughed at the title, because the real reason we were all there was high natural gas prices. "Expensive Natural Gas Conference" would have been more accurate, as prices exploded circa 2000, and suddenly we cared about greenhouse gases.

Conventional natural gas production (ie. the old, easy way to produce gas) in North America has been on the wane for some time now. It has most probably peaked and will continue its decline forever. This fact led many, including myself, to be alarmed at the prospects for natural gas going forward. I asked myself "how will the hundreds of thousands of energy-hungry houses and buildings stay warm in 2030?" I think that everyone should be concerned about the availability of finite resources instead of assuming that someone else will figure it out for us.

Unfortunately for the climate, a resource called shale gas has come into play over the past few years. Apparently there is a lot of it, and it is being brought on stream in large quantities. So the price of natural gas has dipped significantly, and the pundits are starting to talk about gas as a major player in North America for the next long while. While there are many unanswered questions about shale gas (such as how much energy is needed to get it out of the ground and the steep rate of well depletion), it seems that a continent-wide snooze button has been pressed on the subject of heating our homes and fuelling our industry with a depleting, finite resource.

We waste what is cheap, so cheap energy is bad news on many fronts. Interest in green building will decline, investments in renewable energy will be less than they would have been with pricier gas.

It’s frustrating that the apparent near-term abundance of natural gas will keep so many people apathetic about energy. Yet every day we approach the physical limits of growth. It’s not hard to predict that we will hit them. It’s not even hard to predict that we will hit them soon. What is hard is to get people to care when the price signal isn’t there, and when we have just bought ourselves another few years of complacency on the natural gas front.

Of course, peak oil is another story entirely.