Tag-Archive for » Energy Independence «

Monday, May 04th, 2009 | Author: matk62

Instead of junking our gas guzzlers, wouldn’t it be better to convert them into gas sipping dual-mode vehicles?  Here is a story from AltEnergyStocks entitled “The Time is Right for Gas-guzzler to Dual-mode EV Conversions”.  The conversion idea makes more sense to me, but the price is too high right now.  Maybe they could bring down the cost through economies of scale and/or government subsidies.

The concept is simple – add electric power trains and battery packs to America’s least fuel-efficient vehicles and give them 50 miles of plug-in EV range coupled with unlimited internal combustion range. The potential benefits to the economy are enormous because the U.S. could slash gasoline consumption by a billion gallons per year for every 1% of the gas-guzzler fleet that’s converted to dual-mode. It’s also a solution that could be immediately implemented using domestic products and create untold thousands of new cleantech jobs.

bus bar on batteries.The story goes on to detail the current cost at over $10,000 and the breakeven point based on different gas prices.  This does not hold up well with today’s current $2.00 per gallon, but we know this will not last. So this could be a very viable option for our future.

The beauty of this idea is that the electric components would allow you to drive up to 50 miles a charge.  This would cover most daily commutes while the dual-mode could easily switch to gasoline for longer trips.  We get the best of both technologies.

This way many families could continue driving vans, trucks and sport utility vehicles to accommodate children and other needs.  While a Prius is a great vehicle for the single driver, it doesn’t fit in many other situations.  A conversion of our exiting fleet of vehicles would be a huge step towards energy independence.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Audin

Monday, April 06th, 2009 | Author: matk62

I saw this story on The Oil Drum last week and found it very disturbing.  The story is entitled “The 88,000,000,000 barrel debt”.  They use some very simple graphs to illustrate this powerful message.  I highly recommend clicking on this link so you can see the graphs.

The first graph shows how US Energy Production has been almost constant for the past 30 years.  The second graph illustrates how our Energy Consumption has grown over that same period of time.  In the third and final graph, they show the ever rising debt.

So while the US Oil Production has declined over the years, we have compensated by producing more coal and natural gas.  Even with these changes, we have still consumed well beyond our capacity.  After studying the numbers, I put together this chart:

    Barrels Average
Number  of Oil Per Year
of Years (in Billions) (in Billions)
1981-1993 12 22 1.83
1993-1999 6 44 3.67
1999-2004 5 66 4.40
2004-2008 4 88 5.50

 

Do you see a shocking pattern in these numbers?  While it took us 12 years to accumulate a debt of 22 billion barrels of oil in the 80’s, we are now averaging a debt of 5.5 billion barrels a year.  At this rate, we will hit 100 billion by the end of 2010.  So much for Energy Independence.

I think that this just further illustrates that increased production of alternative energy will only help so much.  The real answer lies in reduced consumption.  Passenger Energy is one tool that could help close this huge gap between production and consumption.

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Author: matk62

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day this week I would like to feature an Irish group.  There are so many great ones including Van Morrison, U2, The Waterboys and The Pogues.  The band I chose for this week is Snow Patrol doing their song “Chasing Cars”:

We’ll do it all
Everything
On our own

We don’t need
Anything
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I believe the song is about a girl, but when I listen to the lyrics I can also hear a cry for Energy Independence.  Go ahead, look at the lyrics above while listening to the song and let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 14th, 2009 | Author: matk62

On Wednesday, Australia suffered one of the area’s biggest environmental disasters when a cargo ship leaked tons of fuel oil into the ocean.  A massive clean-up is now underway along nearly 40 miles of east coast beach.

Initially the crew reported the spill was only 5,000 – 8,000 gallons, but later corrected their estimate to be ten times more, closer to 60,000 gallons.  The freighter was struggling in rough seas when some cargo came loose and punctured the fuel tanks.  The massive oil spill is bad enough, but the cargo causing the damage is reported to be 31 containers of ammonium nitrate.  It is believed that the 620 tons of chemicals in the containers have sunk to the ocean floor and pose another threat to the wildlife if not recovered soon.

As bad as this spill is, it does not come close to The Worst Major Oil Spills in History.  When are we going to learn?  This is just another example of the costs to our environment associated with the import of foreign oil.

I truly feel bad for the people of Australia and wish them the best in their clean-up.  We all need to seek clean alternative energy and continue to improve our conservation efforts.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 | Author: matk62

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Putting the Brakes on Offshore Drilling”.  In this post, there is a video from GreenPeace comparing our oil usage to drug addiction.  This is a very powerful metaphor that illustrates our urgent need for energy independence.

This week’s song is “Royal Oil” from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  I’ve read in a few places that the song is about drug use and how it can ruin your future.  As you listen to the song, I think you will agree it could easily be about our current oil addiction.

 

Royal Oil, come on bubble and boil.
Stabs like a dagger, makes you stagger on the hot tin foil.
Mind your mind or it will surely spoil, then you sleep down in the soil.
Nothing comes from nothing, come on Royal Oil.

When you smoke or poke the poison you lose the chance to be tomorrow.
Look out on the horizon and see the sadness, the pain and sorrow.
I can’t say enough about the stuff or what it has in store.
When you smoke or poke the poison you can’t be anymore.

Royal Oil, come on bubble and boil.
Stabs like a dagger, make you stagger on the hot tin foil.
Mind your mind or it will surely spoil, then you sleep down in the soil.
Nothing comes from nothing, come on Royal Oil.

Royal Oil has cut many down to size.
Spikes gonna strike the weak and strong alike.
And then forever, and ever close those eyes.
Make up your mind to keep your mind up and to your life be loyal.
Nothing comes from nothing, come on Royal Oil.

Royal Oil, big trouble brewing.
Long lonely road, long road to ruin.
Wrong path to take, great big mistake.
And then you sleep down in the soil.
Nothing comes from nothing, come on Royal Oil

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author: matk62

Are low gas prices diametrically opposed to our goal of energy independence?  It would seem so.  When gas prices were over $4/gallon, everyone was clamoring for alternative energy.  Now that gas prices have fallen below and remain under $2/gallon, the clamor has gone very quiet.

In a story from the Indianapolis Star, they say “We Can Only Dream About Low Gas Prices, Independence”.  The writer goes on to explain what it would take to achieve these two goals:

To Get Low Gas Prices

  • Encourage more domestic drilling
  • Give companies incentives to drill where oil is cheap (Middle East, Russia)
  • This would make us even more dependent

To Get Independent

  • Make gas prices really high
  • Large tax would anger many
  • Politicians fear voter backlash

Gas $1.41 per gallon: Afternoon of Dec 6, 2008

Given these assumptions, then yes, these two objectives do seem to be mutually exclusive.  The story goes on to say that we continue to gamble on innovation and technological advances in an attempt to solve these two contradictory goals.  So far we have been unsuccessful.  The electric car is the next such “fix” on the horizon and it faces an uphill battle.  Low gas prices mean that it will take a lot longer to recoup the additional $10,000 you have to spend to purchase one.  The new stimulus package will offer tax breaks, but this ends up costing us all in the long run.

In principle, I agree with this basic premise and it is hard to argue with history.  The problem I have with this thinking is that it never addresses conservation.  Instead of trying to reduce our wasteful consumption, we continue to focus on finding more oil at a cheap price.  We can keep gas prices low and reduce our dependence at the same time by simply cutting our usage.

Click on the links below to see the price tag of our current commuting habits:

Instead of looking for the next “fad diet”, we need to focus on consuming less and conserving more.  For long term weight loss, you need to eat less and exercise, it really is that simple.  Can we curb our voracious appetite for oil and improve our energy efficiency?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Wesley Fryer

Monday, January 26th, 2009 | Author: admin

Today President Obama endorsed efforts to allow states adopt rules for stricter emission standards.  In a USA Today story, Obama pushing stronger fuel-efficiency standard, they detail many of the reasons behind this initiative.It's the economy, stupid!

This may seem like bad news for the automakers, but they know these changes are necessary.  We need to focus on lessening our dependence on foreign oil for our own national security.  In a Wall Street Journal story, they make some excellent points:

President Obama again linked his energy agenda to the economy, the environment, and national security. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil helps finance terrorism, subjects Americans to volatile gasoline prices, and courts the “irreversible catastrophe” of climate change. “These are the facts,” he said.

This won’t happen over night, but it is a very good first step.  We need to aggressively curb our greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.  California has been ahead of the curve on this issue and it is about time the rest of the country caught up.

Higher gas mileage and lower emissions, sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it?

Creative Commons License photo credit: net_efekt