Doomberg: Our Energy Policies Are A Joke

Welcome to another episode of Off the Cuff!

Today we’ve got a real treat for you. We’re diving into the incredibly important, and often misunderstood, subject of energy with everyone’s favorite green chicken, Doomberg.

Now, you all know how I feel about the concept of energy ignorance, how our societal conversation is often shaped by a lack of understanding of what energy actually does for us. Energy is not just another commodity, it’s THE master resource. Without it, every other system—be it healthcare, finance, food, you name it—grinds to a halt.

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Doomberg is deeply steeped in this topic and has thought long and hard about the realities, the physics, and yes, the politics of energy. If you haven’t already read his trenchant pieces on the state of our world, particularly when it comes to energy policy, then you’re in for an intellectual feast today.

We’re going to get into the specifics of what green energy policies mean, especially when they’re being pushed without a clear understanding of the technical challenges involved. We’ll talk about the limits of renewable energy, the crucial role of grid reliability, and how our push for ‘green’ might actually be risking our very standard of living. And believe me, this conversation is going to challenge some popular narratives.

So strap in folks, because this is a topic that affects us all, and it’s one we can’t afford to get wrong.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Oil Heat

Burning oil for heat is indeed crazy, but it doesn’t have to be that way even if there’s no natural gas lines.
Cold climate heatpumps now exist that can be easily added to existing system - if you have decent ductwork and the furnace has a decent blower in it that can deliver enough airflow for a appropriately sized heatpump to work properly. The technology is the same as what’s in the mini-splits, only adapted to use conventional control wiring of a ducted system.
Would only need to burn oil or wood on the coldest days/nights.
With reasonable electricity prices, the cost of heat is close to natural gas, even higher at like 15 cents per kwh it would still be a lot cheaper than oil.
Heatpumps are an excellent source of heat - a partial solution to fossil fuel resource depletion problems, especially when the electricity comes from nuclear and or hydro.
It doesn’t make sense to use a heatpump if the electricity to run it comes from fossil fuel plants if natural gas is available, there are no savings, but it makes sense when when on oil or propane heat.
Modern technology has turned heatpumps into equipment that traditionally was only suitable for use in cold climates in the shoulder seasons (without needing to supplement), to equipment that gives 100% heating capacity at 0F with an efficiency of 150 to 200%.
Closer to freezing that efficiency can be over 300%.
The stupidity in this is that the ducted cold climate heatpumps that have great compatibility (like gree flex, midea evox and bosch ids) with existing older furnaces and are more affordable are chinese products. The north american manufacturers are greedy and their cold climate heatpumps need a matching brand high end furnace or air handler and $1000+ special thermostat, and a are $10 to $15 000+ on top of the furnace or air handler and thermostat.
The north american manufacturers could do so much better.
Chris and others reading this in the same situation with a ducted oil or propane furnace, honestly - look into an add on central cold climate heatpump.

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Such a great interview, i could realy feel two diferent strong points of peak oil and have a conversation about it.

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I Believe That There Are Two Potential Solutions To Peak Oil And They Are Both Politically Unpopular

I remember when “Twilight in the Desert” was first published. It was an important book that got little attention. We will never run out of oil. There will however come a day when the “cheap to produce” oil will no longer satiate our demand. Trying to drill our way out of this problem will not work because the production costs for new oil production will be economically nonviable.
Solution 1: We use the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert coal (any carbon rich material) into synthetic oil. We will either need to burn goal or uranium to power this process. It will not be cheap and I am not sure what the production costs would be for synthetic oil and this may never pencil out. Germany used this method to power their war machine in WW2 when oil became scarce.
Solution 2: We immediately figure out a way to cheaply mass produce fuel cells. There are new fuel cell designs that do not require rare earth elements. They will likely be very large because they need a larger surface area on the membrane to get the same power output as a fuel cell that uses rare earth elements as a catalyst. We then need to figure out a way to slowly reterofit our cars to burn hydrogen. It is possible to use natural gas in a fuel cell. I believe that hydrogen is the better fuel because of H2’s energy density.
The solutions above will all require a huge investment into building new power plants. Coal could work but I prefer that we build generation 4 advanced reactors. We will need a cheap source of electricity & steam for either solution.
We have a lot of Rhodium, ruthenium, and palladium being stored in spent fuel pools and dry cask storage modules. The only problem is, we must reprocess high level nuclear waste to extract these elements. We can do this safely. The main problem with this is the politics. These rare earth metals could allow us to manufacture cheap and small full cells with high power densities/outputs.
We need a reliable electric grid. We can’t fuck this up if we want to have any hopes of success! It is critical that we do not waste time and resources on “green energy”. If people knew the facts about “green energy”, it would have near zero popularity.
If I were king for a few years, my policies would be the following:
Policy 1; Build many thousands reactors. Some would be gas cooled small modular reactors (SMR). These SMRs would have enough excess reactivity at the beginning of life to stay at full power for 10 years or longer. You will also need a small number of breeder reactors. These breeders would be required to make the fuel for the SMRs. The SMRs would be “black start capable” and able to handle a full load reject without tripping. We demonstrated that this was possible many decades ago.
Policy 2; upgrade the grid to be resilient and reliable. I would design the grid in such a way that it could operate as one large grid to move power around the USA. The grid would also have a design feature of being able to be broken up into many small grids isolated from each other. Breaking the grid up into small independent pieces is the best method of protecting our grid equipment during a large geo-magetic storm like what we saw during the Carrington event in 1859.
Having a reliable and resilient grid with these advanced SMRs would allow us to keep the lights on during a massive solar storm and be able to restore the grid quickly once the storm had passed.
We would have to address the issues of reactive load as well. We could use the SMR’s generators to make the MVARS needed to move the power around. I think a better solution would be to shut down all coal power plants and convert their generators into synchronous condensers. This would allow us to make the MVARS at the optimal locations to reduce transmissions loses.
Policy 3; We would develop and deploy small electrolysis units that would be installed at our gas stations. These units would generate H2 for our cars. This would make it unnecessary to truck the H2 in from a central location. It would also allow us to slowly convert the filling stations from gasoline to H2 as the demands change during the transition. The H2 ore falls from the sky and the gas station will only need a connection to the power grid and a source of water to make H2.
I want to point out that H2 is not a magical cure for our ills. It will require massive investment to make the transition. At the end however, you will have a reliable and cheap fuel supply. It takes about the same amount of time to fill a H2 tank as it does a gas tank. You won’t be waiting for hours to “fill up” like you see at Tesla charging stations. H2 is also safer than gasoline and many orders of magnitude safer than Li-ion battery packs.
I agree with the importance of a stable grid. All of the nuke plants today require offsite power to be stable. If they loose the grid, they will trip. It will take a minimum of 3 to 4 days to restart them.
I spent 10 years in operations at a large pressurized water reactor. I held a NRC license for 6 of those years and have shared some of my more interesting days on the job in forum posts if you guys are interested. I still work in the industry but I have moved over to the fuel manufacturing side of the industry. There are glimmers of home and I think we still have time to fight and win against the stupid people currently in charge of our public policies.
I could keep going but this post is getting to long to even keep my attention. I will leave with this question. If you lost power to your house on a regular basis, how would it affect you? Would you keep perishable food in a refrigerator? How would you go about your daily life if you only had grid power for 16 hours a day? There are some third world countries that are living this hell.


Can’t edit my post. I forgot to mention that the Canadian oil sands would be a great source of synthetic oil when coupled with nuclear power.
I lost a small fortune on this venture when OPTI went bankrupt and were bought by the Chinese. OPTI’s technology of turning tar into synthetic oil looks similar to the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Morale Booster

Watching the green chicken turn his head and blink as he thoughtfully considered what you were saying is just what I needed to smile again after so many months of bad news. Thank you so much for this. Great job keeping a straight face, BTW. ?


Many (many) years ago I was donating to the engineering dept of a major university that was researching alternative energy sources hoping for a breakthrough. I got to talk to one of the lead researchers, a fully tenured engineering prof, about hydrogen fuel cells (amongst other alternatives). He heaved a big sigh and said that there was no magic bullet, just trade-offs.
In particular, hydrogen isn’t really an energy source but more like a “battery”. As batteries go, not a particularly attractive one IMHO. Hydrogen is the smallest atom and devilishly hard to contain which takes special containers and transfer equipment (storage, transportation, fueling stations, vehicles, etc) that won’t leak. It’s also highly volatile when exposed to air (oxygen). And there’s very little free hydrogen in our environment (see volatile) so it takes energy to create which is an energy inefficient process. All told, it doesn’t seem like a great alternative sadly.
Having said this, the idea of investing in reactors makes sense. A combination of distributed reactors combined with a lowering our societal demand for electricity seems like a viable longer-term solution. Just need to ensure there’s sufficient energy of the right type to maintain, repair and potentially replace the reactor fleet for a long time. Oh, and a means to sequester or safely dispose of the nuclear waste…

Alternative Media Ecosystem / Local And Home Libraries

Appreciate the theme of alternative media being the place of growth and flourishing amidst the capture and propaganda role of mainstream media.
The periphery is where anything useful is happening. It’s as if the center of our culture is a radioactive ground zero shimmering with nothing but distortion and untruths, and way out from the blast zone are the green shoots.
Fertile connections can still be made on the internet, and yet naturally there will be further attempts to choke it off, and so a robust alternet will continue to be important.
Beyond that, local walkable connections and personal libraries/caches of books (from literature and history to how-to books and everything else) are also good resources as libraries “digitize” and discard hard copies thoughtlessly or intentionally (easier to rewrite history from a hard drive than from a hard copy). Orwell, Bradbury, these were the cats.


Peak Oil…

I stopped the podcast at Doomberg’s comment about no such thing as peak oil in order to absorb the jarring discontinuity and to process his comment. He said this hard on the heels of expounding on ‘experts’ failure to recognize the law of physics. Maybe he’s found the secret sauce of how finite fossil fuels with exponentially increasing extraction costs (as measured in energy units) doesn’t have to obey the laws and physics and translate into peak oil? Thinking… Thinking…  ? 
Otherwise, brilliant guest and I’ll rejoin the podcast to hear the exchange on peak oil later today…


okay, finished the podcast and re-listened to Doomberg’s assertion - peak oil isn’t a thing. His rational being that (a) we’re awash in fracking grade petroleum (oh?) and natgas, (b) because technology™ and I think I heard a bit of (c) Hopium mixed in. I’d be interested in Gail Tverberg’s and Art Berman’s reactions to his assertions.
Don’t think I’m changing my plans and preps based on his comments but maybe if there was real data he could point to…


You are greatly mistaken by hydrogen not being attractive for use as a battery. H and O form strong bonds between them. There is approximately 459 Kj/mol of stored energy in the O-H bonds. If you look at H bonds with other elements, only H-F bonds store more energy than the O-H bonds. Why do you think NASA used hydrogen fuel cells as a battery on many of its space craft?
All “sources” of energy behave like a battery. You can break this down to the quantum level and say that ALL energy is derived by converting mass into energy. They are one in the same.
When an electron forms a chemical bond, it loses a small amount of mass. This also applies to a gravity well. All objects gain a slight amount of mass as they travel “up” a gravity well and loose a small amount of mass when they go deeper into a gravity well. Our sun is fusing H into He with both the proton-proton fusion reaction as well as the CNO fusion process. Energy from nuclear fusion is made by converting a small amount of mass into energy.
I am curious to know why you think H2 is so dangerous? I am of the opinion that gasoline is far more dangerous. H2 dissipates quickly in the atmosphere. The LEL (lower explosive limit) of hydrogen is 4%. My main concern with hydrogen is a deflagration event if it leaks into an enclosed area.
Another concern with H2 is fighting it when a leak catches fire. The fire will be a good distance from the source and thus most of the heat will be absorbed by the surrounding air. Hydrogen fires are very hot and difficult to see. You basically have to use two fire nozzles set to a fog pattern to contain it inside a water “clam shell”. This technique requires close coordination between 4 people on the hose lines and the fire captain.
In case you are curious, I worked as an operator at a nuke plant for 10 years. My job duties included being on the fire brigade as both a fire fighter and fire captain. I was required to attend live fire training to maintain my qualifications. Hydrogen fires are far easier/safer to fight/control than propane or gasoline fires. The risk of a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) on a hydrogen tank is far less than that of propane tank. (cool video explaining a BLEVE)
Hydrogen is used in a lot of applications at a nuke plant. The two main uses of hydrogen are using it as a cover gas for the “make up tank” or “chemical control volume tank” and as a cooling gas for the main generator. I believe anyone that is comfortable around gasoline but not Hydrogen has a gross misunderstanding/misconception of the risks involved between the two.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. Videos are worth even more. (H2 vs gasoline automotive fires)
I want you to consider the differences between fires involving lithium-ion batteries, gasoline tanks, and hydrogen tanks. You will need over a hundred thousand gallons of water on a Li-ion battery fire to “contain” it. Putting water on a Li-ion battery fire actually makes the fire worst. Water is used because it is “cheap” and absorbs a lot of heat. The remains of a Li-ion battery car can catch fire many days after it is put out at the junkyard. Every time a tropical storm or hurricane hits Florida, I get a good laugh when I read the stories about Tesla cars committing the act of self immolation days after the storm has passed.
Gasoline fires can be nasty but they can be controlled with the proper use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). Water can also dilute the gasoline and extinguish it. You need a large flow rate of water to fight a gasoline fire.
Hydrogen fires are easy to deal with compared to gasoline or Li-ion battery fires. Hydrogen has to mix with oxygen to burn and this happens a great distance from the source of the hydrogen. Hydrogen fires do not require a large flow rate of water to control them.
I want you to look at the H2 technology developed by Toyota and Honda. You can fill a H2 tank in about the same time as a gasoline tank. H2 cars have a similar range to a gasoline car. The biggest problem with using H2 as a fuel source is that it requires a huge amount of energy input to make the fuel. This is not theory. These cars exist!
Your concerns about H2 storage tanks are also greatly exaggerated. Most H2 tanks today are made of steel. I once saw a steel tank with a swastika engraved into it! It was made by Germany when the National Socialist German Working Party was in control. This old steel tank was still in service in 2006! The tank had markings on it showing that it had passed the required hydro testing every 5 years.
Steel tanks are robust. The reason why steel tanks are in service for so long is because a good carbon steel has a an unlimited fatigue limit when stressed below a certain threshold. Aluminum does not have this ability. Aluminum will eventually fail with repeated pressure cycles. Do you really think that storing H2 in a tank is a big risk? Keep in mind we have been safely storing hydrogen in steel tanks for over a century.
I agree that “free hydrogen” on the earth is rare. The Earth is losing free hydrogen at a rate of 3 kg/sec. Why does this concern you? I can say the same thing about there being no alkali metals, alkali earth metals, aluminum, and iron in the elemental form on the earth’s surface.
Hydrogen ore routinely falls from the sky where I live. Hydrogen ore also covers about 70% of the earth’s surface. We do not have a shortage of hydrogen.

Energy Abundance?

I hope this is the right place to post this. I subscribe to emails from Jordan Peterson’s new project - Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC). I received this today and wanted to know what the PP tribe, especially Chris, think about it? The vision sounds wonderful, but there is no mention or acknowledgement of the potential incoming energy crisis. I think it would be great if Chris had a conversation with Dr. Peterson about his ideas and how this vision is supposed to manifest in a world of peak oil and energy decline. Ice Queen.
“Abundant energy for all – A vision for energy AND the environment
This week we continue our ARC Vision Series with a better story for energy – a story that tells of the incredible power of energy abundance to alleviate poverty and enable progress, while also acknowledging our collective duty to responsibly steward our environment.
Energy is the key to prosperity and cannot be taken for granted.
Transformations in power generation have formed the modern world and driven the extraordinary innovations in the way that we utilise energy: from dirty, inefficient, and labour-intensive, to clean, cheap, dense, and abundant. Throughout history, human ingenuity has driven better outcomes and greater abundance.
In the last 200 hundred years, the revolution in the provision of energy has underpinned the near miraculous improvement we have seen in living standards. We live longer, feed more people, and have a markedly better quality of life than our ancestors.
Policy makers today must balance two key priorities: expanding access to affordable and reliable energy to as many people as possible, and responsibly stewarding our beautiful world for the next generation.
We believe that continuing our journey towards ever cleaner and more abundant energy will benefit humanity and help us steward our environment. But we also believe that ready access to affordable, reliable energy is the most crucial building block for the modern world.
You did not think twice when you turned on the plug to charge your phone in this morning. You would not be reading this without an abundance of energy that could not have been imagined 200 years ago. From coal to oil and gas, from hydro to nuclear, from wind to solar, from tidal to geothermal- when free to be creative, human beings seemingly have no limits to innovation. We may have finite resources, but when we work together, we can unleash infinite possibilities.
If the best predictor of the future is the past, the journey we are on is from dirty to clean, inefficient to efficient, and limited to abundant energy provision. This is our better story.”

Green Chicken… Really?

It’s hard to take anything seriously when you are conversing with an animated green chicken. I preferred the Chris-only segments with your charts. Good thing I can just listen and not have to watch.Disapponting.

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Peak Oil

I was at Drake’s Well PA this last weekend. We bicycled up and down the valley looking at oil ruins from the 1800s. Nope, peak oil is definitely a thing.
The money is always in the “positive” message. Doomberg knows exactly where he makes his money. Sure the doomer may be wrong the first and second time. But eventually iginuity peaks, oil peaks, and human prosperity based on oil… peaks.


Shale Isn’t Technological Progress It Is Financial Engineering

Remember shale and fracking are financial frauds that were only enabled by zero interest rate policies and currency printing allowing artificially low corporate bond rates for exploration and drilling companies… many of which went out of business anyway. The ever decreasing EROI will not support funding with lending or bonds under normal financial circumstances and rates.


“many, Many Centuries Of Fossil Fuels”… ???

What is this guy smoking?


Very Disappointing Chris

Seeing you go back on everything you have stood for for the last 10+ years is so sad. Maybe you get more paid subscriptions from “alt” people who want to live in wishful thinking Lala Land.

Psychohistory Is Real

I can tell you’ve been battered, you wouldn’t have turned around if you hadn’t. Just came to tell you today that, as far as I’m concerned, Asimov’s psychohistory is a real thing. Which I’m sure is neither here nor there, unless I somehow managed to turn lots of other people to my way of thinking. Or, alternatively, it just happens that the future goes along the lines I’m thinking anyway, and people were forced to re-discover some similar version of my wheel. Or else.
Just to give you a heads-up, it’s about networks and using models in the negative (Antifragile style). I’ll get something together later on this month, I’ll post a link here. It may not change your mind because you may not be able to change it, but it’s the sort of thing that’s got to be tried at least once.