Archive for the 'plug in hybrids' Category
Wesley Clark, Army General (ret.) and former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO; Chairman, Rodman & Renshaw
Set America Free Coalition member Jim Woolsey writes in the Wall Street Journal:
“Oil dominates transportation: About 95% of transportation fuel in the U.S. is derived from petroleum. And over three-quarters of the world’s reserves of conventional oil are in OPEC nations. But OPEC is pumping less than it did in the 1970s, despite a doubling in global demand, because it’s a cartel maximizing its income. OPEC sets oil’s price at a level that exploits our addiction but is generally not high enough for long enough that we go cold turkey.
“Oil profits enhance the ability of dictators and autocrats to dominate their people. This is one reason that eight of the top nine oil exporters (Norway is the exception) are dictatorships or autocratic kingdoms, as are virtually all of the 22 states that depend on oil and gas for at least two-thirds of their exports.
“Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth enables it to control around 90% of the world’s Islamic institutions even though it has less than 2% of the world’s Muslims. [...]
“so far every national policy we’ve tried to end our oil addiction has failed, including picking winners. Neither the Synfuels Corporation (the early 1980s drive for coal-to-liquid fuel) nor the hydrogen highway (the push early in this decade to get Americans to drive hydrogen-powered cars long before the technology was ready) had a chance of succeeding. It was too easy for OPEC to drive prices down and crush such costly competition.
“Supporters of cap-and-trade legislation have argued that putting a price on carbon would help us get off oil. But the effect of this would be negligible. Twenty dollars a ton of CO2 equates to about 20 cents a gallon at the gasoline pump.
“Drill, baby, drill? Some suggest that if we replace foreign with domestic oil our problems will be solved. Domestic drilling does help reduce oil’s shareâ€”a billion dollars a dayâ€”of our huge balance of payments deficit, and it adds some domestic employment.
“But that’s it. OPEC has very large reserves and cheap extraction costs, while domestic drilling costs for new oil will be many times that of the Saudis. We can’t drill our way out of the cartel’s control of the global oil market.
“Shifting the way we produce electricity also has essentially nothing to do with oil dependence; less than 2% of U.S. electricity comes from burning oil. We may decide to shift from coal-fired electricity to wind or nuclear for environmental reasons, or not do so for cost reasons, but these issues are not at all central to the oil debate.
“We urgently need to reduce oil dependence in the short term. This means lowering demand and utilizing substitutes as cheaply and quickly as possible. Here are four strategies we can implement beginning today:
“First, we should take advantage of electronic modifications that are being developed for internal combustion engines in existing vehicles. Innovations in computer chips and valves hold an early promise of substantial improvements in mileage by regulating combustion much better than current engines can.
“Second, we should pay attention to T. Boone Pickens’s recommendations to switch to natural gas for fleet vehicles such as buses, and for interstate trucking. Buses and trucks are easily modified to run on natural gas and would only require new pumps at a few central locations and interstate truck stops.
“Third, we should force petroleum products to compete with other fuels as soon as possible. There are many ways to do this, and we should use them all. For example, we should deploy “drop-in” fuels produced from waste and algae. These fuels can mix freely with gasoline and diesel in existing vehicles.
“We should also require all new gasoline-using vehicles to be “flexible fuel, open standard.” What this means is that these vehicles would use a type of plastic in their fuel lines that tolerates nongasoline fuels such as ethanol and methanol. This is a cheap and simple change: Brazil accomplished it easily several years ago. Methanol made from natural gas can be produced for around $1.20 a gallon (of gasoline equivalent) today.
“Fourth, we should move to electrify automotive transportation. Plug-in hybrids are on the road now (I drive one), and production models such as the Chevy Volt, due out this autumn, can drive electrically for roughly 40 miles before needing to plug in or to use on-board liquid fuel. Three out of four days an average car in the U.S. travels fewer than 40 miles.”
With the Copenhagen climate summit’s failure to achieve a binding agreement to resuce greenhouse gas emissions Gal Luft proposes a new approach – oil first.
“Now that delegates to the U.N. climate summit are back from Copenhagen with no more than a non binding, hollow declaration of intent to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, it is clear that the main reason “Cop” turned into a flop is the deep divide between the world’s rich and poor — between those who watch the world on plasma screens and those who are forced to sell their plasma to survive another day.
The platitudes and inspirational speeches on how we must all come together to “save ourselves from ourselves” could not mask an inescapable reality: For poor people, while often being the main casualties of an unstable climate, planetary-scale environmental concerns are a distant second to basic human needs — access to electricity, food, and shelter. They are therefore unwilling to put their economic growth on hold until the world comes up with economically competitive alternatives to coal-fired electricity. In India alone, 150 million people have no access to basic lighting. In the face of such grinding poverty, it’s no wonder that the rich countries’ attempts to thwart the expansion of fossil fuels were perceived by many in the developing world as a new form of imperialism.
This pushback by the developing world begs for a unified, yet politically feasible, agenda that can be embraced by rich and poor countries alike. One area where such an agenda can emerge is oil. Whereas reaching consensus about significant cuts in the use of fossil fuels in power generation seems to be unlikely, focusing on reducing the use of oil, which powers 95 percent of the global transportation sector, is a goal that offers a real chance of global acceptance.”
Here is the full article
Jim Woolsey and Anne Korin have an article in the fall 2008 issue of MIT Innovations titled How to Break Both Oilâ€™s Monopoly and OPECâ€™s Cartel. An excerpt:
The reality is that neither efforts to expand petroleum supply nor those to crimp petroleum demand will be enough to materially address Americaâ€™s strategic vulnerability, although they can help on an interim basis with such issues as the effects of our huge balance of trade deficit. But such solutions do not address the roots of our energy vulnerability: oilâ€™s monopoly in the transportation sector as the reason oil is a strategic commodity. This monopoly gives intolerable power to OPEC and the nations that dominate oil ownership and production over the consuming nationsâ€™ economies. Policies that only perpetuate the petroleum standard, doing nothing to address the lack of transportation fuel choice, would therefore guarantee a worse future dependence on the oil cartel as the non-OPEC nationsâ€™
share of the worldâ€™s oil reserves and production further shrinks.
Not long ago, technology broke the power of another strategic commodity. Until around the end of the nineteenth century salt had such a position because it was the only means of preserving meat. Odd as it seems today, salt mines conferred national power and wars were even fought over control of them. Today, no nation sways history because it has salt mines. Salt is still a useful commodity for a range of purposes.We import some salt, so if one defines independence as autarky we are not â€œsalt independentâ€. But to most of us there is no â€œsalt dependenceâ€ problem at all â€” because canning, electricity and refrigeration decisively ended saltâ€™s monopoly of meat preservation, and thus its strategic importance.
We can and must do the same thing to oil. When the British Navy made the shift from coal to oil, then First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill famously remarked, â€œsafety and certainty in oil lies in variety and variety alone.â€To diminish the strategic importance of oil to the international system it is critical to expand the Churchillian doctrine beyond geographical variety to a variety of fuels and feedstocks.
Ensuring that new cars sold in the U.S. and, by extension, the rest of the world, are platforms on which fuels can compete will spark a competitive market in fuels made from a wide array of energy sources, thus breaking oilâ€™s transportation fuel monopoly and eventually stripping oil of its strategic status.
Thirteen senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell, urging full funding of the plug in hybrid and other vehicle electrification provisions authorised by last year’s energy bill. Full text and signatures are viewable here.
A Chinese company, BYD Auto, did what the big auto companies failed to do so far: introduce the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid, the F3 DM. BYD’s new car, with a $22,000 price tag, can run for up to 60 miles on a battery charged from an ordinary electricity outlet. The Dragon is at Detroit’s gate.
In a Huffington Post interview Jim Woolsey notes:
Any bailout money for Detroit should be used to maximize the speed of a shift toward the use of electric hybrids and flexible fuel vehicles. Both are necessary in breaking oil’s monopoly on transportation in the U.S. Both would utilize existing infrastructure such as electric power grids and filling stations, and the technology is already there, and in use, for the engines themselves. So it can be done relatively quickly.
When I say electric, I don’t necessarily mean all-electric cars. With an electric hybrid, you only need a battery than can take you 30-40 miles on an overnight charge — along the lines of what the Chevy Volt (scheduled for 2010) can do. Three quarters of the cars in the U.S. go less than 40 miles a day. On three days out of four, you can use all electricity. For anything beyond that, with a hybrid, you’d have liquid fuel to take you the rest of the way where you need to go.
Flexible fuel vehicles should have an “open standard,” which means they can use not only ethanol but methanol, butanol or other alcohol-based fuels. This can be done quickly. Brazil went in only three years from having 5 percent of its news cars using flexible fuel to 75 percent.
Putting this shift front and center will not only help save jobs in the auto industry but create news jobs — for example in the production of batteries for electric hybrid vehicles. It will create a whole new set of suppliers.
Read the whole thing.
The biggest battles on Capitol Hill sometimes aren’t between Democrats and Republicans, but rather between the House and Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate passed (and the White House indicated that if it passed the House as is it would be signed)Â a tax extender package.Â Â This compromise package was approved 93-2 and included a whole slew of provisions from renewable energy tax credit extensions, to plug in hybrid consumer tax credits, to provisions that dealt with the Alternative Minimum TaxÂ and disaster relief — in short, a very delicate balancing act.Â
So delicate, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had the following to say when the bill was sent back to the House:
“I hope the House accepts what we do. I do my very best to get along with the House, the Democrats and Republicans.Â But everyone should understand that we have had a very difficult time getting to the point where we are in passing this final version of this bill.Â If the House doesn’t pass this, the full responsibility of this not passing is theirs, not ours.”
Reid also said:
“I say to my friends on the other side of the Capitol, the House, don’t send us back something else. We can’t get it passed. If they try to mess with our package, it will come back here, it will die, and we will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”
Pretty strong words, provoking the following statement fromÂ HouseÂ Republican WhipÂ Roy BluntÂ (R-MO):
“It’s rare that I agree with the Senate Majority Leader, but when it comes to changing this critical tax relief bill, I agree with him one-hundred percent.Â To those in the House that wish to either split this bill up or add unrelated provisions to it, they must understand that they are imperiling this vital piece of legislation.Â The House must take up and pass the Senate bill as is.”
Well, Washington being what it is, the final plan on the table in the House today differs pretty substantively from the Senate package and just got a White House veto threat because it separates the energy provisions (which the House altered as well) from the overall compromise package:
“The Administration is disappointed that the House has decoupled this legislation from AMT relief [...]By doing so, the House invites certain delay of this important piece of legislation being signed into lawÂ [...] The Administration urges the House to adopt the Senate Amendments to H.R. 6049 passed by the Senate on September 23, 2008, in their entirety.Â If H.R. 7060 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.“