WASHINGTON IS STILL BROKEN
Much has happened in the energy arena since my last post. Unfortunately, there still is no clearly defined American energy policy. Washington is broken in so many ways and energy is no exception. Regarding energy policy, there is much more talk than action.
With the price of oil currently in the mid $80’s per barrel, oil is down significantly from just a month ago. If not for speculators and oil & gas ETF’s, the price of oil would likely be considerably lower. This would put money in consumers’ pockets and enable them to spend more on goods that would boost the economy. The U.S. balance of payments is in the range of more than a negative $50 billion per month (imports greater than exports). Economists and politicians almost never talk about the trade imbalance, but it is probably the single greatest contributer to the U.S. budget deficit and our sluggish economy.
WHAT WE NEED TO DO
Produce more oil and gas domestically (we have the oil and gas so let’s produce it). This should be a 10 – 20 year solution.
Push solar and wind energy much more aggressively and build the solar panels and wind turbines domestically.
Push conservation much more aggressively, from building the national smart grid to conservation in the residential and business sectors.
Push building of the latest generation nuclear energy.
Place greater effort on clean coal…. we have huge amounts of coal.
Use natural gas to power trucks, buses and some cars.
Get people to buy energy efficient cars that are appropriate for their needs. Many people driving gas guzzling SUVs do not need them.
Where natural gas is available, stop using imported oil to heat hom
These actions will keep jobs and money in the U.S. and help heal our budget and debt problems.
BOTTOM LINE – ENERGY AND THE U.S. ECONOMY WILL GET FIXED WHEN THE POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON CARE MORE ABOUT THE U.S. AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAN THEY CARE ABOUT GETTING RE-ELECTED….DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH WAITING!!!
T. Boone Pickens Should Take a Close Look at This Solution for Powering Cars
Israeli company Better Place has an innovative solution for electric cars that holds great promise for countries around the world. Israel has plans to be totally off of gasoline powered cars by 2020. Don’t be surprised if they achieve this goal before then. Better Place’s goal is to put in place zero emissions electric cars. In countries like Israel, where there is an abundance of sun, solar power will generate the electricity. In other countries, where the sun is less available, the electricity can be generated by other energy sources including some solar power, wind power, nuclear power, natural gas, clean coal, geothermal power, hydro-electric power and other possible sources.
If Shai Agassi’s plan works, it will truly take the world to a “Better Place”. Here are some of the details of his plan (from Better Place’s web site):
Founded in October 2007 on $200 million of venture capital, Better Place, in its first six months, announced cooperative agreements with Israel and Denmark to transform their transportation infrastructure from oil-based to renewable energy and significantly reduce harmful emissions.
Better Place’s model means consumers subscribe to transportation as a service, much like they do today with mobile phones. Auto companies make the electric cars that plug in to the Better Place electric recharge network of charging stations and battery swap stations. Energy companies provide the network’s power through growing renewable energy projects. And Better Place provides the batteries to make owning an electric car affordable and convenient.
Is the Pickens Energy Plan “Energy Nirvana”, or is it Another “Here We Go Again” Plan?
If you have been watching television lately, you have probably seen an advertisement by T. Boone Pickens about his energy plan. T. Boone Pickens is a Texas multi-millionaire. He made his fortune in the oil and gas (natural gas) business. His web site http://www.boonepickens.com/ has a summary of his advertisement: “America is in a hole and it’s getting deeper every day. We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700 billion a year – four times the annual cost of the Iraq war. I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of. But if we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil. On January 20, 2009, a new President gets sworn in. If we’re organized, we can convince Congress to make major changes toward cleaner, cheaper and domestic energy resources. To get this done, I need your help. Check out the plan. If you think it’s worth fighting for, please join our effort, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.”
Pickens presents his energy plan in more detail on his web site and at The Pickens Plan. His message is simple, powerful and generally makes sense. The U.S. needs to quickly move toward energy independence, we need leadership and a plan to make it happen, and the energy plan must include a balanced energy portfolio that includes hydrocarbon, nuclear and renewable energy sources. The energy plan must also move us quickly toward significantly reducing carbon emissions. Pickens is helping to raise awareness and support for the need for a national energy plan and he should be thanked for doing so.
Carbon Fiber Cars May Have a Major Impact on Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions and its Impact on Global Warming
On July 23, 2008 Thomson Financial News reported that Japan’s largest synthetic resin maker, Toray Industries Inc., together with Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. will jointly develop a new carbon fiber material for use in auto bodies, with the goal of developing mass-market carbon fiber cars.
The goal is to establish mass production technology for the new carbon fiber material by the mid-2010s. By replacing most of the steel used in cars, they aim to develop vehicles up to 40 percent lighter than their steel counterparts, it said.
Carbon fiber is about one-quarter the weight of iron, but is 10 times as strong. Today, steel accounts for three-quarters of the average car weight of around 3,000 pounds.
By replacing most of the steel used in key parts with carbon fiber, the weight can be reduced by up to 40 percent to approximately 1,800 pounds, helping improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent, or 0.7 ton, per car a year.
There was no mention of how much the new carbon fiber material will impact the cost of each new car, or how the cost of repairing carbon fiber cars, as a result of accidents, will be impacted.
If this innovative initiative is successful and the carbon fiber material can be used by other automobile manufacturers as well on a mass market basis, the impact on lowering oil consumption and global warming will be very significant.
Former Vice President Al Gore challenged the United States to shift its entire electricity sector to carbon-free wind, solar and geothermal power within 10 years, and use that power to fuel a new fleet of electric vehicles.
The debate is now on. Is Al Gore’s Challenge realistic? Can the U.S. become energy independent within 10 years, and can we do it with alternative energy solutions rather than continued reliance on oil, coal and natural gas? Should we drill for more oil within the U.S. and off-shore?
Whether Gore’s proposed energy challenge is doable or not, it will hopefully spark debate and action in Washington, and start to mobilize the country to achieve energy independence while addressing Global Warming in a meaningful way. John McCain and Barack Obama responded positively to Al Gore’s energy challenge, however their energy plans clearly are not aligned with achieving Gore’s challenge.
Only $1.25 billion is for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Let’s put this in context. We are spending approximately $150 billion/year in Iraq and we are spending over $700 billion/year for imported oil. The 2009 U.S. budget is over $3 trillion and President Bush is recommending $1.25 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This is less than 1% of what we should be spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy!
The energy war is a much greater threat to the U.S. today than the war in Iraq. It is killing our economy.
If President Bush and this Congress were in power from 1940 – 1945, the U.S. would now be speaking German or Japanese. There hasn’t been a sighting of leadership in Washington in years, many years!
Reducing oil speculation will hopefully lower gasoline prices
Many people in the investment community, including most oil traders, hedge fund managers, investment bankers and pension fund managers, along with a majority of Republicans in Congress have been saying over and over again that speculation has not been a material factor in driving up oil prices. Many business leaders and Democrats in Congress believe that speculators have played a significant role in the quick escalation of oil and gasoline prices.
On July 15, 2008, Senators Reid, Durbin, Schumer, Dorgan, and Murray introduced S. 3268, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008. This legislation, developed after consultation with consumer advocates, oil market analysts, and experts from the financial and airline industries, seeks to reduce the amount of excessive speculation in the oil markets.
For the sake of the U.S. and world economies and the American public, hopefully the Democrats are right and the legislation will be enacted quickly, leading to a significant reduction in oil and gasoline prices.
Politico.com article on oil speculation bill
MarketWatch.com article on oil speculation bill
LISA Airplanes, a French Company, is Building its New “Hy-Bird” Airplane Powered by Renewable Energy
Will renewable energy sources power airplanes in the future?
The “Hy-Bird” project plans to fly around the world with a 100% clean electric airplane powered only by renewable energies: solar energy and hydrogen.
Photovoltaic cells affixed on the wing and on the horizontal tail will supply sufficient energy for the take off and for on-board power supply. Besides, a fuel cell will fuel the aircraft for cruise flight. An electric engine (more silent than heat engines) will propel Hy-Bird.
Trina Solar of China will supply the solar panels for Hy-Bird. According to the Trina Solar website, the airplane will be built by the end of 2009.
This is an innovative project that may lead to using renewable energy sources for powering, or at least partially powering some airplanes. It is not clear that renewable energy will be a viable source of power for commercial aircraft in the foreseeable future, but it may be successful for some smaller airplanes.
This guy is saying what many Americans are feeling and thinking about high oil prices
“Joe, American” Challenges the Presidential Candidates – on their oil policies. This is a must see video with energy solutions. “Joe, American” is an American citizen that is disgusted with the leadership in Washington and the energy solutions thus far proposed by the Presidential candidates. Whether you agree with him or not, you will probably understand his level of frustration and desire for leadership and action in Washington.