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Impressions from a trip to Aberdeen

by Luis de Sousa Mon Nov 21st, 2011 at 04:49:55 PM EST

One of the projects I'm working on in my new job lead me to a 3 day visit to Aberdeen for a regular biannual partner meeting. It was my first time in Scotland, hence there was much learn. I also had the time for a swift visit to a good friend of mine, Euan, whom lives in the city and I get to see once a year or so.

With the due apologies for the lousy cell phone photos, the camera didn't make it there.

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The Linux of Nuclear power

by Luis de Sousa Fri Nov 4th, 2011 at 06:28:16 PM EST

Now here's an article that connects many dots on Nuclear energy.

LEAP: After Fukushima

For the sake of completeness, the title of this exercise in political anticipation applied to nuclear power should also include two other factors besides Fukushima, namely the Internet and the global energy crisis which is one of the elements of the global systemic crisis we are experiencing. In effect, it is the combination of these three factors which, according to LEAP/E2020, radically and permanently alters the whole decision-making process on nuclear power that we have known since this source of energy took its first steps after the Second World War. This decisional "revolution" will, during the course of the current decade, equally affect the methods to decide or, on the contrary, block the development of nuclear power, as the room for maneuver for national players in these decisions and, finally, the players themselves. Indeed, the "nuclear power policy makers", historical pillars of the development of this energy from the 1950s, just like their fierce rivals the environmentalists who emerged in the 1970s, will quickly see that their monopoly of the debate on this subject is coming to end. Fukushima, the Internet and the crisis are in the course of shattering the nuclear debate's traditional expertise, limited to mode "pro" or "anti". The implications of such an upheaval for the various industry players and policy makers faced with choices for national energy are on an unprecedented scale since they involve a whole segment of global energy production.

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The Debt Obsession

by Luis de Sousa Thu Nov 3rd, 2011 at 07:07:34 AM EST

We are living a debt crisis in Europe; some states are presently unable to finance themselves on the regular credit markets. This state of things has provide fertile ground to question the Social State and force on these ailing states a new socio-economic paradigm. This has been achieved by masking the real problems Europe is living and falsely characterizing the economic difficulties of the weakest states. Some days ago I was sent a link to an article by Der Spiegel on Portugal that oincluded this paragraph:

On the way there, a two-lane bike path hugs the coastline for several kilometers between Cascais and Guincho. Special streetlights spaced only 50 meters apart illuminate the brownish-red special asphalt at night. But cyclists are rarely to be found along this route, even during the day, because the wind is simply too strong.

In this log entry I'll deal with these and other misconceptions about Portugal: structural funds, football stadia, highways. None of it is good, but none of it is the cause of today's problems. Debt has become an obsession that is holding back the move forward.

front-paged by afew

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Like a rat fleeing a sinking ship

by Luis de Sousa Thu Aug 18th, 2011 at 05:00:08 PM EST

I can't help the feeling, it is a difficult time in Portugal and I'm leaving. At the turn of this year time started to run out for further financing of what was then my professional position. Back then I intended to create a company to provide services on Geographic Information Systems to state institutions, but the contract that could kick start that enterprise never came. In the first weeks of this year I started a series of contacts with acquaintances in the field, went to a few interviews but no effective job offers came up. By the end of February someone sent me an e-mail pointing to a research position at Luxembourg. With my PhD still going in its theoretical phase, emigrating really wasn't in the cards. I closed the e-mail but didn't delete it.

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Solar Power - One Year On

by Luis de Sousa Mon Aug 8th, 2011 at 04:37:45 AM EST

front-paged by afew

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Random Thoughts from ASPO-9

by Luis de Sousa Thu May 12th, 2011 at 09:32:33 AM EST

A monument to the Cycling culture in Brussels.
The ASPO conference was back to the old continent with a joint organization by ASPO-Belgium and ASPO-Netherlands. Set at the political heart of Europe with an ambitious programme that called in many speakers outside the ASPO circle, even outside the ASPO view of the world, the expectation was high. I hadn't been at an ASPO conference since 2008 in Barcelona, hence this one had a rather different tone to it. With the first economic impact already upon us and the basic mission of setting a date for Peak Oil now largely behind us, the conference's objectives were considerably different.

Fortunately, those two and half days completely fulfilled expectations with an overall high standard of quality and above all, opened ASPO to new dimensions of resource depletion and the end of growth as we know it. Beyond that, the large time slots provided for discussion were a serious plus that enriched the intellectual outcome of the conference. Rembrandt Koppelar, Patrick Brocorens, Simon Kalf and the remaining staff are all to be congratulated for a fantastic job.

Below the fold are a set of thoughts from this conference, as I lived it.

front-paged by afew

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What the EPP gives the EPP takes - political crisis in Portugal

by Luis de Sousa Thu Mar 24th, 2011 at 02:40:15 AM EST

The political theatre
"The theatre play comes to an end." That's how the opposition leader in Portugal announced last weekend that the ousting of the government was imminent. To that end the opposition rejected an agreement with the Council to use the European Stabilization Fund aiding with the state's sovereign debt.

Upon the rejection of the austerity package that underpinned Portugal's access to the Union's aid mechanisms, the Prime Minister resigned, casting a shadow of doubt on the future of this state and of Europe itself. The consequences of this political crisis are as of now largely unpredictable, but certainly huge.

Front-paged by afew

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Sócrates and Zapatero leave PES for EPP

by Luis de Sousa Sat Mar 5th, 2011 at 12:15:10 PM EST

These two men:
are no longer socialists, they are now but covert agents of the EPP in Iberia.

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The Silver Bull

by Luis de Sousa Tue Jan 18th, 2011 at 09:41:43 AM EST

Taking the bull in the face is risky business. But as with many other displays of Man's pretense power over Nature, pikemen use their larger brains to overcome heavier muscle, once the beast's vision is folded by the blanket of men it simply comes to an halt and no one gets hurt. That's the theory and what takes place in most occasions, but once in while a bull comes out into the arena that no one will take. Speed, obstination, a different way of setting the face, pikemen fly and the bull goes through.

The silver market today is living a bull that looks alot like one of those that no one can take.

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Peak Coal: the Olduvai perspective

by Luis de Sousa Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 07:17:27 AM EST

Peak Coal. Some folks have begun eagerly researching this topic and writing about its timing, now that talk of Peak Oil is all around. The different outlooks on how and when the peak will occur are disparate, ranging from next year to a time many decades in the future. This post tries to view this debate in a different, wider perspective, and deals with the following issues:

  • Applying the Hubbert Method to Coal;

  • Looking at Ultimate Reserves for Coal;

  • Coal and its place in the Olduvai picture;

  • Implications for stakeholders;

This post is largely a follow up to Dave Summers' Future  Coal Supplies: More, Not Less!

from the diaries - Nomad

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My Generation

by Luis de Sousa Sun Nov 21st, 2010 at 07:16:34 AM EST

The weather's been messing up again and I find myself at home in this Sunday morning. Maybe a good time for some cleaning, set some things in order and answer some correspondence. I find out that some of my local friends are running some sort of campaign to change all their profile pictures at Facebook to comics or cartoons characters. It's quite funny to see al those images from the early years: Tom Sawyer, Donald Duck, the Coyote. There's no doubt which cartoon I'll chose to join this campaign.

Simple things can sometimes be quite defining of a generation. Mine is that set of folk to whom the videos below bring up a tear to the eye.

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The oil 'peak' has been reached

by Luis de Sousa Wed Sep 29th, 2010 at 04:20:36 AM EST

Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues is about the only journalist in Portugal sensible to the issue of oil scarcity. During the past few years I had the opportunity of collaborating with him several times in order to bring Peak Oil to the greater audience on an almost regular basis. Last weekend the largest weekly newspaper in Portugal (and among the diaspora), Expresso, had another article in its Economy section penned by Jorge with a few thoughts on present events and trends. Samuel Foucher kindly provided an updated version of one of his graphs that illustrated the article.  

Below the fold goes a possible translation of this article to English.

frontpaged - Nomad

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70% 60% electricity from renewables? Yes we can!

by Luis de Sousa Mon Sep 13th, 2010 at 07:10:49 AM EST


Yesterday an acquaintance of mine sent me a link to an article about electricity generation in Portugal. This article claims that in this state the share of renewables in the electricity mix will be over 45% this year. I was well aware that things have been going quite well with Wind, but that figure seemed a bit on the bright side. So I went checking at the National Grid's website, to my startlement, not 50%, but over 60% of the electricity used in Portugal during the first 7 months of 2010 came from renewable, indigenous sources. Even in July, a month during which pluviosity is about 0 and atmospheric circulation is at its slowest phase, renewables accounted for almost 40% of the mix. And this is not some micro-state or wind battered isle, it is a respectable piece of land that 10 million souls call home.

Promoted by Colman. Who repeated a piece of text to make an intro.

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Building Europe by hand

by Luis de Sousa Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 06:24:13 AM EST

For the first time in my life I'm considering registering with a political party. Why? Because of an initiative that has the potential to completely change the way politics is made in Europe. Two PES activists are proposing a US-style primary system to find the PES candidate for Commission President, where registered party members elect directly their preferred leader. If it ever comes to be like this, both politics and elections in Europe will never be the same, Eurocrats will come closer to Eurocitizens and we'll stop having nomination-surprises like Van Rompuy or Barroso.

The beauty of it all, the sheer elegance, is that all this can be achieved without new treaties, new framework laws or endless Council negotiations, it's all coming from the Citizens themselves. This is how Europe must be built. [UPDATE 14-08-2010] A good deal of broken english corrected.

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Address to the Commission's 2010 Consultation on Energy

by Luis de Sousa Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 at 01:52:22 PM EST

Below the fold can be found the submission I produced for the Commission's Consultation on Energy. Time has been in short supply lately, what was initially conceived as a draft to be posted for public review and completion ended up successively postponed to the last few days. This version was sent to the Consultation's e-mail box last night at 23H53 CET, only 7 minutes before the deadline. References are scant, some sections are incomplete and the English shaky here and there; but it contains some food for though, especially in the opening stages. [UPDATE 05-07-2010] A bunch of typos identified by melo corrected.

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Les 24 Heurs Du Mans 2010

by Luis de Sousa Sat Jun 12th, 2010 at 06:25:57 PM EST

The greatest car race of the calendar is on the road.  Portuguese hopeful and pole-position taker Pedro Lamy had to park his Peugeot 908 for good with only 2h30 into the race. Listening to the the TV commentary I'm catching up on the motorsport world news. As usual rumors abound around this race and unlike the present classifications, not everything is bad news.

[UPDATE 14-06-2010] New rules for hybrid cars at the end. Full electric cars seem possible already for 2011.

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Daniel Cohn-Bendit on Greece

by Luis de Sousa Mon Jun 7th, 2010 at 05:50:33 AM EST

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EU Energy and Transport in figures: Pocketbook 2010

by Luis de Sousa Fri May 28th, 2010 at 04:31:28 AM EST

For all the number crunchers out there: there's a new publication by the Commission to make your delights, the Energy and Transport Statistical pocketbook 2010. There are documents, time series and spreadsheets, time to get the calculators and graphics renderers to work.

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Two interesting radio interviews

by Luis de Sousa Thu May 13th, 2010 at 07:49:39 AM EST

Recently, two of today's Economic thinkers that I most respect have been interviewed by American radio shows. Frank Biancheri and Jim Rickards give their accounts of the world Economy with the crisis over the Greek budget and the attack on the €uro as background.

Notwithstanding individual biases (that are natural to any of us) both interviewees talk about the same problems from different perspectives and with different words, but lay down similar scenarios for the future: a transition of power away from the OECD. Excellent food for thought.

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Commission opens two important consultations

by Luis de Sousa Fri May 7th, 2010 at 02:19:28 PM EST

The Commission has opened two very important public consultations: one on Transport and another on Energy. The first is on the proposed implementation of the trans-European transport network policy (TEN-T). The second is more wide, regarding the Energy Strategy for the period 2011-2020.

Links and resources below the fold.

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