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US Foreign Policy, Iran and Wind Power

by nb41 Mon Oct 22nd, 2012 at 03:13:59 PM EST


Iran's wind resource is concentrated in the north, especially northeast, often in "wind canyons" similar to Tehachapi in California, or Oaxaca in Mexico. So far they only have 130 MW of capacity in some world class windy areas (only Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt have more installed capacity in the Middle East/North Africa). Wind sourced electricity in Iran means that natural gas (or fuel oil) that might be burned locally to make electricity can instead be exported to Europe or India, and given what world natural gas AND oil prices are and are likely to be, that's a money gusher. The light orange areas could utilize Low Wind Speed Turbines at reasonable delivered electricity prices.

At tonight's Presidential Debate - the Foreign Policy edition - some topics unlikely to be discussed include Peak Oil, Global Climate Change (significantly brought on by oil and natural gas combustion), income and wealth inequality/mal-distribution (within countries, and among countries), world population and controlling birth rates as well as the use of defacto slave labor throughout the world (a way to use up all those surplus people in pursuit of wealth enhancement by the Global upper 1% of the world income distribution). Romney (a champion of the 1% both within the US and throughout the world) will try and keep things vague, meaningless and will harp on issues that defy the ability to quantify them ("weasling" opportunities). He is, after all, pushing the reincarnation of George W. Bu$h's/Dick Cheney's foreign policy (just like your local crack'n smack pusher is trying to maintain sales), which managed to make our country one of the most hated pariahs in the world in just a few short years. Obama is unlikely to be able to say much of substance in 30 second or two minute intervals, either, though he is obviously the lesser of the two on the Evils Scale. And they might both drone on about the virtues of drones....

So, since they won't say much of value (though it is meant to sound substantive), here goes. Oil, and access to it, is of Prime Importance; wars have been and will continue to be waged to gain access to it, or at least be threatened. Besides, you seriously can't wage wars without oil... The world population of 7 billion and counting is way beyond the ability to sustain so many people UNLESS massive energy use (renewable, nuke and/or fossil fuel) is continued. And since most women of child bearing years do not have access to birth control or much of a say in when they get impregnated/if they stay impregnated, or else feel that they have to reproduce in order to have children who will support them in their old age, so much for getting the population under control and back below the 2 billion mark in a peaceful manner.  Of course, educated women are also a part of the solution; ignorance seems to breed overpopulation, as well as epidemics of death by pregnancy complications, just like it used to in the US and Europe. The recent arrival of Peak Oil (declared in 2011 to have been 2006) is leading to a succession of economic crises wrought by rapidly increasing oil and natural gas prices (North America is a temporary exception to the natural gas trend). This is pulling huge amounts of income and wealth from much of the people/countries on the planet and dumping it into the small number of those with access to the oil/the ability to provide it. Petro countries and companies have more money than they can invest/find things to profitably invest in at rates they deem acceptable. So much of this money sits idling, doing nothing productive to wean us off of fossil fuels and onto a renewable energy based world, as it can't be invested in things with the present profitability of oil exploitation. And as for those oily opportunities - it's slim pickens these days, and getting ever slimmer as the dregs of new oil resource discoveries keep getting "dreggier".  This also acts to further impoverish much of the world, as well as the vast majority of people in what are considered wealthy countries. Meanwhile, relatively cheap oil (for transport of goods) and telecommunications has allowed "third worlders" to sort of participate in the world economy, especially when the ruling cliques in most of these countries are so easily bribed/lured into an alliance with the "worldwide 1%". Workers in these countries make stuff for multinational corporations (sometimes owned by other national governments, too, but mostly just by wealthy people, mostly American and European) at slave labor like wages, but these products are sold at prices based on "what the market will bear", and the ginormous profits are wisked into "1% territory", wherever that is. But the workers who make the stuff cannot afford to buy much, and with inadequate consumer demand, standards of living generally only rise to the top 10% of the world (the 1% and helpers/facilitators), but especially to the apex of the worldwide income pile.

Meanwhile, false hopes like nuclear power have turned out to be so incredibly expensive that nukes are no longer economically viable. So, affordable energy is increasingly made by coal in much of the world (especially China and India = "Chindia"), trashing our climate control system at an increasingly perilous rate. But, not to be outdone, those pushing natural gas (LNG, fracking, ever more drilling) are also busy at work, often using lies and weasel arguments like "cleaner than coal", which is not saying much, especially with regards to renewables - and in the case of fracking, almost non-existent in terms of Greenhouse Gases potentials. And the one thing that could reverse it - a massive worldwide renewable energy push, with technologies appropriate to the region where they are installed - is, with the minor exception of western Europe, nowhere at the level they need to be. The U.S. still is deluded in thinking that our renewable energy technology is needed by the rest of the world (wrong, it is now a European led effort, though it could be US led, if renewables were actually allowed to be economically viable in the US), but this is ONLY because renewable energy is not allowed to be profitable via arrangements like Feed-In Tariffs or else with quota systems at the scale needed. And what the world really needs is for the US to go renewable in a big Keynesian-like effort with Made in USA stuff (no imports needed, especially slave labor made stuff), massively increasing economic demand and wealth creation in the USA, as well as dropping demand for oil, coal, natural gas and uranium in the world. Other countries/regions would get the hint.... even if the US never really exported much of this renewable energy stuff, the world and the bulk of the US population would massively benefit.

An then there is Iran, which used to be a sort of US colony after we killed the leader in 1953 who kicked out the extremely vile and hated Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (predecessor to British Petroleum = BP) from Persia. At least until the chickens came home to roost in 1979, when the Khomeni took over and formed a theocratic dictatorship. The US via the Reagan Administration (who, before elected, got Khomeini's allies to hold the embassy hostages in Iran until after the US 1980 election (released the minute Reagan took the oath of office - just a coincidence, right? - and thus helping with OUR religious fundamentalists) then had another pet petro-dictator - Saddam Hussein of Iraq - wage an epic war on Iran (though it may have been inevitable), killing a least a million on both sides, and ending in a stalemate, and impoverishing both countries (and both with awesome oil and natural gas resources, which should have made both incredibly wealthy) something fierce, as only meaningless wars can do. A male dominated theocracy in Iran led to a population explosion of a sorts (like in Saudi Arabia), and now more than half of the 90 million people in Iran were born after 1980. They are bored, restless and have too much education to tolerate a Theocracy which is getting corrupt via crude oil (least value added, least job creating form of oil) sales to Europe and/or Chindia for much longer. The complicated Iranian ruling cliques (it is not mono-dimensional) need diversions badly in order to perpetuate their reign of error, but this system is by no means unique to Iran. It just sort of works....

There is quite the love-hate relationship between Iran and the U.S., as well as a lot of the rest of the world, mostly bordering on the hate and severe mistrust aspects. For the US and Iran, each government and nation provides a GREAT EXCUSE/FOIL to the other, sort of what was going on in George Orwell's novel "1984". It always helps to hate, and to have someone to hate if you have to distract attention from a crappy economy, a nation full of stifled young people with opportunities stunted by religious wingnuts (kind of like the 2012 version of the US Confederacy, = core Republican states) and extreme prudes who work really had at imposing their own form of Hell on Earth. Maybe death is supposed to be a relief that only religious ecstasy can provide for the faithful....

So, in the US it's election time, and the perennial favorite Scourge on the Horizon - the Iranian Bomb - is in full display mode. And at the same time, this country where mass quantities of oil and natural gas have been tapped since 1916 and which sits on some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves still remaining on the planet can't refine enough gasoline from the crude oil it produces, and instead has to IMPORT refined gasoline and diesel from neighboring Kuwait. Seriously, that is some impressive incompetence. It has yet to have any LNG (liquified natural gas) facilities, yet neighboring Qatar has 7 LNG "trains" and a world scale Gas To Liquids (GTL) facility - the $18 billion Shell Oil Pearl GTL complex, the world's biggest. So the humongous Iranian methane (North Pars) field underneath the Persian Gulf remains untapped, and uneconomic...so whether it is corruption (rumor has it, there is a fair amount of that going down in Iran, as the Mullahs settle into 40 plus years of absolute power), religious zealotry, internal Iranian power struggles or just greedy factions (national and international) facing off, Iran is way behind in the value added economic model. And without access to world money and world export markets, Iran's economy is in the pits, dropping fast, as their oil can't buy them "friends", even the likes of China and Pakistan, thus violating the adage that money can buy you friends, or at least rent them, no matter how grotesque they (Iran's real rulers) become...

Anyway, it IS true that Iran's government has blown many tens of billions of dollars of resources on nukes, including U235 enrichment (uranium ore mining, yellowcake (U3O8) preparation, a fluorine and hydrogen fluoride facility, UF4 and UF6 facilities, those infernal centrifuges (which had their controllers corrupted with the Stuxnet computer super-virus) and defluorination facilities, plus the facilities to handle uranium metal and presumably make it into materials suitable for reactor fuel rods and perhaps eventually into Bombs. They may even have plutonium extraction facilities at the ready. You can almost bet that one of the reasons they don't have sufficient local gasoline production/refining capacity for their cars is the failure to invest in some new refineries.... and that's because they "bet it on the ponies" (nukes), so to speak. What a waste....

After all, the technology to make A Bomb is 65 years old, and a 2010 laptop computer has all the information processing capability needed to design one, or design a system to make one, or mass produce them. Plus, The Bomb is a known fact - so it does not need to be invented. But, Iran must also know that if they do posses A Bomb, they will need to possess lots of them to be considered credible - maybe around 40 to 100 of them, at minimum, like Pakistan, that other nuke possessing economic basket case. And they also know that if they are stupid enough to use them, they will be annihilated as a people and a country. So, the Mullahs plus their wealthy and corrupt partners/facilitators would be unable to live large on all that oil and gas money if they go full tilt stupid, and they just are not THAT stupid or any longer THAT zealous. But, obviously, it would be preferable if they never make The Bomb, or mass produce them. Indeed, it would be preferable if they would just go max out on renewables (i.e invest their oil export monies in something that would employ Iranians in mass quantities and make them better off, too), and prepare for the day when solar thermal and wind plus pumped hydro provide their energy, especially when their one-time bounty of oil reserves run down to the point where they would otherwise need to import them. Southern Iran in particular has lots of sun, not much water and is next to lots of ocean, and sun plus ocean can lead to fresh water for agriculture, pumped sea water for energy storage and an energy system suitable for the 21st century. But not if they keep "blowing the rent money on the ponies" - alias wasting it on nuclear pipe dreams, as either Bombs and nuclear reactors.

Maybe this is another case of "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery". Iran is busy imitating the US and Europe with respect to the so-called "peaceful atom", even though wind, solar thermal and biomass are now far less expensive ways to make electricity. Heck, even PV is probably cheaper, and even in Iranian deserts, PV is still and expensive way to make electricity, but it is more job creating (especially if the PV systems were made in Iran) and on a full cost basis, probably lower cost than nukes. But, nukes are an interesting cross between religion and technology - it requires the BELIEF that nuke reactor catastrophes won't happen to justify the insanely huge investments needed for nukes. But, the inevitable ALWAYS happens, and the more corrupt, the more theocratic (as in non-nuke religious arrangements) the government/society, the more likely it is to happen per unit nuke per unit time. And just for good measure, Iran is also located on the "Ring of Fire" - where tectonic plates are colliding and really intense earthquakes happen. So if earthquake initiated nuke disaster happened in Japan, it is even MORE likely in Iran (BTW, Fukushima 1 was toast even without  the tsunami that came into shore one hour later...).

Of course, the US is right to accuse the Iranian government of ambitions to make The Bomb. After all, the way WE made The Bomb was to make nuclear reactors and grow a vast supply of plutonium, as well as separate U235 from U238 and then make a special Bomb that just used U235 as the fissile material. So did Russia, France, Britain, China and Pakistan; India used Canadian CANDU reactors and just went right to plutonium based bombs... And no one would ever accuse Pakistan of being a wealthy country, or a particularly stable one these days, either, but THEY got The Bomb, and rumor has it, about 40 of them, too, which cannot be used if Pakistan wishes to remain in existence after it uses one or many of them. It's not called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) for nothing...

Anyway, looks like this essay is longer than a 30 second advertisement, so that also means it can't be discussed in our Presidential Foreign Policy Debate. And given the blizzard of lies that Romney (on the two previous TV sessions) and Ryan emanated onto TV Land, well, there is no reason to assume that he would not do the same and make for a perfect 3 for 3 "Lie-athon". How to debate against someone who just says ANYTHING as long as it sort of sounds reasonable and has been vetted by supreme advertising/propaganda talent is a tough problem. Won't someone ask him about his relationship with prime scum of the litter vulture capitalist Paul Singer (http://www.thenation.com/article/170644/mitt-romneys-bailout-bonanza), a guy who has a business model of holding millions of starving third worlders ransom for his bought on the cheap distressed Sovereign bond tactics. Heck, Singer used that to shake the US Federal Government down for at least $12 billion on the Delphi deal, then fire 25,000 UAW members and offshore those auto parts jobs to China. Singer's  corporate hedgie blackmail activities are considered so vile that even Europe - home to all kinds of hedge-fund and bankster fraud via bonds these days - banned them. And just think how HATED the US becomes when tens of millions are starved so that this greedster can bulk up his winnings. Well, with the Delphi deal, we see how behavior considered uncivilized in the "First" world but practiced in the "Third" world and especially the "Fourth" world (if you think things are bad in the "third" world", well, check out areas worse than those in places like Equatorial Guinea or Somalia) can come back and bite us in the USA bad. Foreign or domestic, a human being is a human being, and after all, we only have one planet to live upon. Since it is the 21st century, maybe it is time we in the USA behave like we are a part of it. The separation of Domestic and Foreign is not at all as clear-cut and mono-dimensional as is commonly believed.

Peak Oil. Global Warming. Energy wise and Climate-wise, do unto others as you would have done unto you. Oil is not forever - we are now down to less than half of the decent quality oil reserves we started with. In North America, we have already burned through most of our "conventional natural gas" we started out with, not to mention the liquid hydrocarbons (way past half consumed). We have an awesome wind energy resource that can supply us with all the electricity, heat and most liquid fuels (along with biomass) we really need, and at a price at least 6 times less than non-slave labor made PV can ever dream of doing. What's the problem? Perhaps we could be a good example to the world, like we keep thinking that we are but actually have rarely behaved like in those "lesser worlds" numbering past "Second". And while we are at it, let's start mass producing birth control, both for us, and also a lot of the world's women. Odds are, they don't appreciate breeding themselves to an early grave, not that they have much of a say in the matter. And maybe we could set tariff rates based on prevailing wages, so we compete on the basis of quality, and not level of Dickensian workplace horror. And can't someone put Paul Singer in the slammer? How about that for an educational moment?

Ugggh. There can be so much that needs to be improved upon, including what comes out of the mouths of US Presidential candidates at what passes for debates among the top twosome, especially the more maniacal and less truthful of the pair.

 Of course, improvement can be a good thing, it actually is possible, and it's what got "clunker" wind turbines in the 1970's in California morphed into items like this Alstom 3 MW unit that just got installed in Scotland in a new addition to the Whitelee wind farm (a 217 MW project) - see http://www.alstom.com/uk/projects/power/whitelee/. And in Brazil, the first installation of ECO 122 turbine - 2.7 MW units with 122 meter rotor diameters - will soon begin. That's the one part of a cure for Global Warming, Global unemployment, Global lack of economic demand, and eventually, Peak Oil, without going into massive "die-off" of humans and roughly half the present number of living creatures on the planet. We don't need some equivalent to a "Resident Evil" plague to restore a sense of normality to the climate control system of our plant, just some common sense and perhaps a touch of decency. And if Iran can't figure out that that nukes and bankruptcy (moral, economic, ecologic, income distribution) go together like  absolute power and corruption, well, give them a bit of time and more rock music, movies, and internet access. Maybe the mullahs will be too busy downloading porn to notice how obsolete they have become, and they can join the Republican Party dominating American Taliban Teabaggers in a common alliance of blissful ignorance. Or they can all complain about those infernal wind turbines that mess up the view and inspire too many young women to limit the number of children they have to sensible levels, since they have to go off to work at making and installing more wind turbines... Yes, they can all pine for the days when oil was cheap, cars were big and fuel efficiency sucked, and how American petro-gluttony was so tightly intertwined with Middle Eastern petro-client states, who also believed in all things oil so much more than their professed religion told them to believe in their male deity.


from http://www.alstom.com/power/renewables/wind/

Oh well, time to move along now. The plan is to eventually have our descendants make it to the 22nd century, and current arrangements will not let that happen. Maybe we need to change current arrangements... ya think?



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