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Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

How to save energy through both societal and individual actions.

Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Zarquon » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 03:04:03

A decade ago, at university, I was working on a few energy efficiency concepts for office buildings. And each demonstration or construction project we got funding for had "energy efficiency and comfort" in the project title. You have to assure people that they will get the exact same comfort levels they are used to (or better), but since we were so much smarter than others we'll deliver that comfort for a lot less energy. Mention the possibility of a few days in unusually winters with only 19°C (66F) in the office or more than 25°C (77F) in summer and they turn away. Management knows that they have a riot on their hands if that happens. It's unacceptable.

And IMO it's a generational issue. I know people who grew up in the former East Germany, where heating was practically free. Room temperature in winter was set by opening or closing windows. Some people liked 28°C in their living rooms. And some never changed that habit.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 09:11:15

Zarquon wrote:A decade ago, at university, I was working on a few energy efficiency concepts for office buildings. And each demonstration or construction project we got funding for had "energy efficiency and comfort" in the project title. You have to assure people that they will get the exact same comfort levels they are used to (or better), but since we were so much smarter than others we'll deliver that comfort for a lot less energy. Mention the possibility of a few days in unusually winters with only 19°C (66F) in the office or more than 25°C (77F) in summer and they turn away. Management knows that they have a riot on their hands if that happens. It's unacceptable.

And IMO it's a generational issue. I know people who grew up in the former East Germany, where heating was practically free. Room temperature in winter was set by opening or closing windows. Some people liked 28°C in their living rooms. And some never changed that habit.

A designer would never size a heating unit too small to do the job with no reserve capacity. Say you size it so when it is 0 C outside it can only keep the inside temp at your 19C above. What then happens in the odd winter day that goes to -40? better to design the heating unit to be able to handle -50c after reducing the demand for heat and fuel by better insulation and building design. The cost of the spare capacity in the heating unit is cheap compared to the cost of frozen pipes and sick elderly tenants.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Newfie » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 11:09:23

There are all kinds of things that can be done to be more energy efficient. Even just simple things like drying your clothes on a line. Yet in many places that is not allowed.

One place to start this is in our building codes. Developments are not designed to be energy efficient or to encourage mass transit. Unfortunately we have decades of such thinking here in the USA and consequently a large amount of very wasteful housing stock we can not afford to replace. Kinda of like getting a huge tatto that says SUE FOREVERE LOVE, then having her dump you. it has left a mark.

The sooner we start with energy effiency the better. It can be in small and personal ways that save you dollars. I once bought a 25 year old house. We got a pretty good price in part because the heating bills were outrageous. Scared people off. I had noticed the basement was the hottest room. 5 minutes of investigation revealed the cause. The realtors warned us off the house due to the heat situation. I bought it anyway. Fixed the problem in about 1 hour (plumbers cut huge hole in the distribution duct) and cut heat bills by 2/3.

Yet that problem had existed for 25 years.

We need to figure ways to be more efficient. Higher fuel cost will enable that. Thus I support increase taxes on fossil fuels, dramatically higher, provided the collections go into reducing ff dependency and even greater effiency.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby careinke » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 20:33:30

KJ, I enjoyed reading your vision, thank you.

I agree it is certainly possible to reduce FF consumption to 15%, or less, of present day use with little to no loss of comfort. As a matter of fact, our health both physical and mental would probably improve. Finally, I also appreciate that you take action to validate your beliefs. Because without action, you have nothing.

That said, I was a little surprised that so much of your vision relies on government force, something that is very hard for you or I to achieve. Especially since you mentioned a ground up movement.

Check out "Open source ecology," as an engineer, I can guarantee you will love it:
http://opensourceecology.org/

Highly self efficient (totally?) homes you can build yourself for less than $25,000 in materials for a 750 sq ft model. Plus all materials sourced within 50 miles, with a lot of the materials produced on site.

They use permaculture principals as applied to housing and tool making.

Thanks again,
Cliff (Start a rEVOLution, grow a garden)
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 21:08:12

Lite - "In 2008 PU sales were pee-uuu, collapsing 20%. & to put it in perspective, PU people didn't buy economy cars, since economy car sales went down a bit. PU sale increases since then, have much to do with fuel price collapse."

And to put it into perspective: you're full of poo-poo. LOL. From 2009 thru 2015 US light truck sales increased every year INCLUDING those years when oil increased from $50/bbl to over $100/bbl.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/199 ... ince-1951/
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sat 05 Nov 2016, 21:44:02

Newfie wrote:One place to start this is in our building codes. Developments are not designed to be energy efficient or to encourage mass transit. Unfortunately we have decades of such thinking here in the USA and consequently a large amount of very wasteful housing stock we can not afford to replace.

We need to figure ways to be more efficient. Higher fuel cost will enable that. Thus I support increase taxes on fossil fuels, dramatically higher, provided the collections go into reducing ff dependency and even greater effiency.

Absolutely. Your comment about developments remind me of apartment complexes. Around here (central KY) we have a LOT of older apartments. Since the owners aren't incentivized to be efficient, we tend to have the following idiotic situation.

1). The owners don't want to upgrade from the old, very inefficient, often forced-air electric systems. They work, so they refuse to upgrade them.
2). The tenants of such apartments pay SERIOUS bills to heat their apartments. Naturally, this implies they take a serious amount of energy.
3). Basically, everyone loses from this (AGW), but the owner wins financially, and so it persists.

This is just another example of why some kind of a carbon tax is KEY to making a dent in the overall problem. And I agree with where the revenue should go.

Now, if we could just (virtually) bang everyone over the head hard enough to get them to see the wisdom of this. It could be decades before people get around to being willing to push hard on their governments to get this done.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Newfie » Sun 06 Nov 2016, 11:47:34

We own a 4 apartment brownstone in Philadelphia. Until this year we rented 3 apartments and lived In one. Now all 4 are rented. My Wife is a bug on effiency so we have had a lot of conversation about what to do.

It is a row house built about 1887 and is in a historic district. Walls are 2 bricks thick. LOTS of Windows because when it was built there was no AC. central oil forever hot air heat, included in rent. Window AC units, tenant pays electric. We never has AC in our unit but had to address that to rent it out. AC is a REQUIREMENT to rent even though we never missed it.

Not much you can do with a house like that, extremely little. The good thing is the common walls are almost infinite insulation. The Windows and exterior walls are near zero insulation. Wife put in new "energy efficient"Windows where we were allowed (over my objections.). They made a tiny difference. I rebuilt all the original Windows we weren't allowed to replace. Made a tiny difference.

So we have moved from 1000 sq feet to a boat, under 400 sq feet. Little or no heat, no AC, solar and wind. Good for us right?

No. Nothing has changed because the building still stands and is occupied and still burns as much or more ff as it ever did.

So our conservation measures did nothing. Why? Because there is someone to use the old building. Because there are more people, someone to fill the hole we left behind. Someone to burn those calories we don't.

How do you fix that?
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 08:38:15

Newfie wrote:We own a 4 apartment brownstone in Philadelphia. Until this year we rented 3 apartments and lived In one. Now all 4 are rented. My Wife is a bug on effiency so we have had a lot of conversation about what to do.

It is a row house built about 1887 and is in a historic district. Walls are 2 bricks thick. LOTS of Windows because when it was built there was no AC. central oil forever hot air heat, included in rent. Window AC units, tenant pays electric. We never has AC in our unit but had to address that to rent it out. AC is a REQUIREMENT to rent even though we never missed it.

Not much you can do with a house like that, extremely little. The good thing is the common walls are almost infinite insulation. The Windows and exterior walls are near zero insulation. Wife put in new "energy efficient"Windows where we were allowed (over my objections.). They made a tiny difference. I rebuilt all the original Windows we weren't allowed to replace. Made a tiny difference.

So we have moved from 1000 sq feet to a boat, under 400 sq feet. Little or no heat, no AC, solar and wind. Good for us right?

No. Nothing has changed because the building still stands and is occupied and still burns as much or more ff as it ever did.

So our conservation measures did nothing. Why? Because there is someone to use the old building. Because there are more people, someone to fill the hole we left behind. Someone to burn those calories we don't.

How do you fix that?


The only way to fix it would be to build a new 4 unit apartment building that is super energy efficient, move the residents of the old building in, then demolish the old building so it can no longer be used by anyone in the future.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 08:46:29

Tanada wrote:The only way to fix it would be to build a new 4 unit apartment building that is super energy efficient, move the residents of the old building in, then demolish the old building so it can no longer be used by anyone in the future.

It is in a historic district. Newfie can't just tear it down.
It takes a politician with big connections to confiscate it under imminent domain and get the permits to tear down the whole block and build their new for profit project.
Little guy loses , connected big guy wins.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 08:56:10

But that's just the issue. Even if it were physically and politically possible would it be worthwhile from a CC viewpoint?

To be zero net energy the site would have to abandoned. Almost zero sunshine.
There is energy use to tear down the old house and dispose of it properly.
New site development energy.
Energy to build the new housing.

I just don't see that math adding up.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 09:25:44

Newfie - "I just don't see that math adding up.". And thus the fundamental problem with many energy " solutions". If the existing less efficient infrastructure weren't already invested and we were starting with a blank sheet of paper many conditions could radically change. Just look at gasoline consumption: if all US vehicles were to completely disappear overnight (instead of the current 11+ year life span) the average mpg of the new replacement rolling fleet would be much more efficient then we have today.

But that and so many other "solutions" ain't going to happen because the TOTAL economics of such changes don't make sense.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 09:45:07

Newfie wrote:But that's just the issue. Even if it were physically and politically possible would it be worthwhile from a CC viewpoint?

To be zero net energy the site would have to abandoned. Almost zero sunshine.
There is energy use to tear down the old house and dispose of it properly.
New site development energy.
Energy to build the new housing.

I just don't see that math adding up.


Yes, this is why I did not put all new windows in my house, or several other energy efficiency option. With unpredictable energy prices the cost of getting a loan to make the improvements makes no economic sense. You could probably add some interior insulation to the brownstone you own, but to really improve things you would need to virtually gut the inside down to bare walls and build an entirely new structure with deep stud walls heavily insulated, new electric circuits, possibly new coaxial cable outlets in each interior room to add cable/satellite/modem access...

The possible improvements are endless but the costs both financial and ecological are significant. That is why I said replace and remove, in the long run gutting out and rebuilding is less efficient than replacement. Renewable energy in say the form of a new heating system using a pellet furnace gives you bio based heating, but at what environmental costs? If you live near a pellet making facility or a commercial cherry processing facility the ecological costs are reasonable. If you are heating in Philadelphia perhaps not so much.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby GHung » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 10:32:04

Tanada said; "The possible improvements are endless but the costs both financial and ecological are significant."

That pretty much applies to all of the infrastructure we invested in during our energy bonanza over the last hundred years or so. It is also why there have been significant tax credits to upgrade these things. Whether or not people can take advantage of those is another question. If I had needed to replace our windows, until last year I could have gotten credits to cover 65% of the cost with 5 years to use them. We've never used any tax credits for our 'renewable' energy systems except for our solar hot water upgrades - an approximate $3000 investment ended up costing us just over $1000 after we took the credits, even though it took us 3 years to recover 2/3 of those up-front costs. The upgrade cut our propane use by more than half, and we have almost as much guilt-free hot water as we can ever want; a real help for these ageing bones.

Then, again, doing these upgrades has other advantages including increased property values, and of course, overall environmental benefits. Those of us who've dug deep and made the investments aren't really interested in 'subsidising' others lifestyles through their environmental impacts; one reason I'll never go back to being a gridweenie who's lifestyle adds to the burden and growth requirements of our collective energy use. Gridweenies generally view these things through a lens of financial short-term self-interest rather than the greater good. Some of us have set different priorities regarding our behavior, even when the financial benefits don't quite wash.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Zarquon » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 12:02:00

Pellet heating:
http://energytransition.de/2014/09/is-e ... s-forests/

Pellet heating took off in Germany in the late nineties. Going green was one thing, taking advantage of cheap wood waste was another. A sweet deal, for a while. Last thing I heard was that prices are pretty low at the moment, but were close to natural gas a few years ago. That's because the whole thing became so successful that we quickly ran out of wood waste and began importing freshly cut Canadian lumber for our "green" heating. No reforestation of course, that would ruin the economics.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 12:03:50

careinke wrote:KJ, I enjoyed reading your vision, thank you.

I agree it is certainly possible to reduce FF consumption to 15%, or less, of present day use with little to no loss of comfort. As a matter of fact, our health both physical and mental would probably improve. Finally, I also appreciate that you take action to validate your beliefs. Because without action, you have nothing.

That said, I was a little surprised that so much of your vision relies on government force, something that is very hard for you or I to achieve. Especially since you mentioned a ground up movement.

Check out "Open source ecology," as an engineer, I can guarantee you will love it:
http://opensourceecology.org/

Highly self efficient (totally?) homes you can build yourself for less than $25,000 in materials for a 750 sq ft model. Plus all materials sourced within 50 miles, with a lot of the materials produced on site.

They use permaculture principals as applied to housing and tool making.

Thanks again,


The lack of a financial motive to renew the infrastructure is the reason for the government mandates in my first message. Even though I would prefer a pure financial incentive, there has long been such in place, and it hasn't worked. Things such as fracked natural gas have defeated this.

Imagine a USA where petroleum has escalated 400% in cost, as has natural gas. I think it is a decade away.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 12:18:04

Zarquon wrote:Pellet heating:
http://energytransition.de/2014/09/is-e ... s-forests/

Pellet heating took off in Germany in the late nineties. Going green was one thing, taking advantage of cheap wood waste was another. A sweet deal, for a while. Last thing I heard was that prices are pretty low at the moment, but were close to natural gas a few years ago. That's because the whole thing became so successful that we quickly ran out of wood waste and began importing freshly cut Canadian lumber for our "green" heating. No reforestation of course, that would ruin the economics.

Here in Vermont wood pellets are selling for $250 to $270 a ton which makes them more expensive then heating oil this winter for those that have kept both systems in working order and can switch back and forth between them. Let oil get back up to $85/ barrel and it will swap back.
I wouldn't worry about Canadian reforestation. It self seeds in and the amount of forest mass remains pretty constant.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 13:09:06

And back to the complexity of the biomass situation: not all wood powered energy is the same...or even close in some cases. So says the Natural Resources Defense Council...not exactly a right-wing think tank:

"The vast majority of that wood fuel is being culled from American forests, making pellet-makers fat and happy — projections suggest it could become a multi-billion dollar industry over the next ten years — but causing forest advocates and climate campaigners to grow increasingly alarmed. On its face, wood-based energy would seem to be both renewable and climate friendly. Unlike coal, oil or natural gas, trees can be grown, harvested and replanted in perpetuity — at least in theory. And while planet-warming carbon dioxide is released when wood is burned to boil water, generate steam and drive a turbine, that CO2 is also absorbed by trees when they are growing, resulting in what would seem to be a wash as far as the climate is concerned.

Or so, again, goes the theory. In a new issue brief, Sami Yassa, a senior scientist with NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program, attempted to model the precise carbon impacts of burning wood pellets made from varying amounts of whole trees, wastes from saw and paper mills, and tree tops and branches left over from routine logging operations. Why does this matter? Well, it’s all about timeframes. A pile of sawdust or thin twigs left to rot on the ground will decompose and release stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere relatively quickly, the thinking goes, so collecting such material and burning it doesn’t much accelerate that natural process. So long as new trees are being planted to slurp up atmospheric CO2, no consequential emissions are added to the atmosphere — making wood energy in this context look better than, say, electricity derived from coal, which can only deliver its stored CO2 upward.

But things get messy, according to NRDC, when whole trees are harvested specifically to generate energy — something that the booming market for wood pellets in Europe is already driving, advocates say. In a nutshell, that’s because wood is far less energy dense than fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, so you have to burn a lot more of it, relative to fossil fuels, to get the same amount of energy output. This means that, in the early years of a hypothetical wood-based biomass power plant, the carbon dioxide emissions are comparable to, or worse than, even the worst climate-trashing coal plant. Eventually that carbon pollution will be cancelled out by new trees that are growing and absorbing CO2, but just how long is “eventually?”

That’s the key question, and according to the NRDC’s new wood pellet modeling effort, the answer depends a great deal on whether the wood pellets were manufactured mostly from scrap wood, or by cutting down whole trees. The analysis included modeling results for three representative scenarios: Wood pellets made of 70 percent, 40 percent, and 20 percent whole trees. The higher the percentage, the bleaker the picture. The modeling shows that it will take approximately 55 years for forest regrowth to recapture enough carbon from the atmosphere to reduce the plant’s cumulative emissions below those of coal. At levels greater than 40 percent, pellets emit more carbon than coal for most of this period. In addition, as the percentage of whole trees increases above 70 percent, the level of carbon emissions continues to increase.

When whole trees make up 20 percent of the wood in pellets, emissions are slightly higher than natural gas and slightly lower than coal for a period of approximately 55 years, as shown in Figure 3. Even when whole trees make up as little as 12 percent of pellets, our modeling showed that burning pellets still produces emissions comparable to natural gas trend line for approximately 50 years. Put simply: Wood-based power could be carbon neutral at some point down the line, but it will take a heck of a long time to realize, especially if whole trees are used in the process. Now, whether that sounds like good news or bad news to you in the big scheme of things will depend on your perspective vis a vis the sensitivity of the climate to ongoing carbon pollution. As far as NRDC is concerned, 50 years is a dangerously long time to wait for the presumed beneficial results of any alternative to fossil fuels."

Thus it seems like the critical question for each wood pellet burner would be the source of their hydrocarbon fuel source.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 13:29:00

KaiserJeep wrote:Imagine a USA where petroleum has escalated 400% in cost, as has natural gas. I think it is a decade away.

For oil, who knows? But at $8 to $9 gasoline, say, or even $15 (starting from the 2014ish high price), in a decade I see the BEV and especially the PHEV being wildly popular. For example, by year end, I can presumably buy the Toyota Prius Prime for $25Kish net after the $4500 federal tax credit (without a discount -- I'd wait until I could negotiate a meaningful discount), in the medium trim-line I'd want.

With 25 miles per charge, my estimated annual gasoline consumption goes from about 160 gallons for 4000 miles in my Corolla (at 25 mpg), to about 6 gallons at 50 mpg for 300 miles for my out of town trips -- assuming I can't plug in anywhere out of town.

At six gallons, suddenly even $50 a gallon gasoline is more an annoyance than a disaster. And at $50 a gallon, I bother to arrange that at the other end, I'm allowed to plug in, and now the expected annual gasoline consumption is more like 3 gallons.

Now, if gasoline did that, you'd see a lot more cars with Volt like range and above appearing rather quickly, or people just biting the bullet and buying a BEV. And in ten years, I'd expect a 300+ mile range (or more) to be fairly common in a BEV, and a BEV to be no more expensive than a Bolt, and perhaps meaningfully cheaper.

So an inconvenience, but hardly a disaster, even for people driving 12,000 miles a year. Oh, and imagine what happens to oil demand (and the price) when THAT shift to EV miles (including PHEV's) happens.

...

For a world literally awash in natural gas and projected supply of natural gas, with respect, I have trouble taking seriously a sustained global price rise to anything like 400%. But even if it does, given where prices have been in the past, I see that as primarily an inconvenience, and a very strong push to accelerate things like home solar installations, etc. -- at least in the first world.
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 14:02:11

"...where petroleum has escalated 400% in cost, as has natural gas."??? NG well head prices have increased from the lowest point last January of $1.75/MCF to the current $2.80/MCF. A healthy % jump but nothing close to 400%. And in a longer time frame it's at the lowest price for the great majority of the last 10+ years. Especially when it was 400% higher then the current price. Perhaps that's the time frame you meant and I just misread you. But very quickly after spiking 500% higher the price fell almost to the current level.
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Re: Energy efficiency beats renewable energies: report

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 07 Nov 2016, 14:12:02

ROCKMAN wrote:"...where petroleum has escalated 400% in cost, as has natural gas."??? NG well head prices have increased from the lowest point last January of $1.75/MCF to the current $2.80/MCF. A healthy % jump but nothing close to 400%. And in a longer time frame it's at the lowest price for the great majority of the last 10+ years. Especially when it was 400% higher then the current price. Perhaps that's the time frame you meant and I just misread you. But very quickly after spiking 500% higher the price fell almost to the current level.

Given the KJ comment I quoted in my post above, I presumed he meant oil and gas escalating 400% compared to current prices in a decade. i,e.:

KaiserJeep wrote:
Imagine a USA where petroleum has escalated 400% in cost, as has natural gas. I think it is a decade away.


My comments are in that context -- much higher than current price in a decade, which is why I was, for example, talking about gasoline at about 400% of the current price (or even 400% of the much higher price in 2014 before the current sleigh ride began).

I didn't say anything specific about the NG price because I assumed the example prices I gave for oil made my intent clear. (I mainly know that fracking has led to quite low NG prices on average (i.e. dirt cheap) for quite a while now). Sorry for any confusion that assumption on my part caused.
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