On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

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reikiman
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On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

This interesting interview of James Woolsey was played on NPR's Weekend Edition this morning. It goes over the need to do for oil what was done for salt nearly 100 years ago. Salt used to be a resource with strategic importance enough to cause wars over salt mines, but refrigeration made Salt irrelevant and now salt is just a seasoning.

James Woolsey is a Washington insider with decades of experience. FWIW. His contention is that oil is a national security risk. The figure is that the U.S. is essentially borrowing $1 billion/yr due to oil imports because we import 70% of our oil needs. He doesn't discuss the peak oil issue behind why we import 70% of our oil (the U.S. is way past it's peak of production which occurred in 1971).

Another point he makes is that renewable energy resources like Wind or Solar provides electricity. Since the transportation system is largely oil based, creating electricity does not power oil driven vehicles. As good as it is to installing renewable energy systems it doesn't do anything to reduce dependence on oil. BTW I made the exact same argument in a podcast from last year: Offshore drilling on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, an Interior Department hearing, held in San Francisco, April 16, 2009

If Oil Were Like Salt, Could U.S. Kick The Habit?

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

This interesting interview of James Woolsey was played on NPR's Weekend Edition this morning. It goes over the need to do for oil what was done for salt nearly 100 years ago. Salt used to be a resource with strategic importance enough to cause wars over salt mines, but refrigeration made Salt irrelevant and now salt is just a seasoning.

An excellent article. The Era of oil is drawing to a close and it's not just the USA that must start adopting new technology to replace the dependence on oil. Oil has brought mankind unparallelled benefits and ironically the infrastructure to provide a relatively feasible transition to replacement technology.

The change will not be easy and the analogy with salt is a good one. All finite resources will one day become scarce but I do not subscribe to a doomsday prediction. I am optimistic that our future as a species to expand beyond our terrestrial domain, and continue expanding and evolving our civilisation beyond even the expectations of even the most creative sci-fi writers imaginations, is assured. Not without pain, and setbacks..but assured.

The need to think globally has never been greater, most of our energy resources should be regulated by international standards, monitored by international bodies. Although such bodies have, in the past, proved ineffective, real progress is being made, albeit slowly to make such institutions respected and positive.

Of course, these are just my humble thoughts.(and hopes)

marcopolo

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Consider

I heard this guy on the radio, he said we could elimnate all the oil drilling in the gulf just using up the current alcohol capacity available today. Very compelling.

Alcohol Can Be a Gas,
In 1983, David Blume wrote and hosted a 10-part how-to television series called Alcohol as Fuel for KQED, the San Francisco PBS affiliate. He also wrote the definitive how-to book on ethanol, Alcohol Can Be A Gas!, which was going to be sold on the air.

The book was at the printer preparing to go to press, and the first airing of the television series in San Francisco was underway, to be followed by release to 140 PBS stations nationwide. Big Oil got wind of the project and convinced KQED to halt the printing and cancel the release of the series to the rest of PBS.

Although there were lawsuits, KQED's oil-funded lawyers crushed Blume, and the series ended up locked in KQED's vault, while the rights to the book went back to Blume. The book sat on the shelf for the past 20 years.

Beginning in 2003, Dave Blume set about updating the book in a big way. He raised money from individuals (not institutions or corporations) to fund his research into the current state of the art in alcohol fuels. He traveled extensively in both the US and Brazil, collecting and documenting innovations and the success of Brazil's alcohol fuel program. Four years of full-time work with a team of researchers has resulted in a completely new and greatly expanded version of the book.

THE NEW BOOK
Alcohol Can Be a Gas! (subtitled Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century) is an information-dense, highly readable, profusely illustrated manual, covering every aspect of alcohol fuel from history through crops, hands-on fuel production, and vehicle conversion. It's the first comprehensive book on small- to farm-scale alcohol production and use written in over 90 years.

Internally divided into six books, the single volume contains 640 8.5" x 11” pages, with more than 500 illustrations, charts, and photos. It sports a 700-word glossary and a full index. It retains the original 1983 foreword by R. Buckminster Fuller. Alcohol Can Be A Gas! is a complete toolbox for farmers, green entrepreneurs, and activists to wrest control of our energy system from the Oilygarchy and put it back in the hands of the public.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

There already is alcohol in gas. Any more than 8% endangers most engines. Mix 10ml of gas with 1ml of water and shake it up. If you can measure it, you should see close to 2ml at the bottom, as the alcohol clings to the water, and the heavier water goes down.

We have E85 (Ethanol 85%) here in Californis, I remember seeing it in the Peoples Republic of Santa Monica during the $5/gallon gas period, and it was less. But if it's more than 60% the price of gas it's a bad deal, because people who were using it in flexfuel vehicles told me they got about 60% of the mileage with it. (One truck went from 15mpg to 9mpg.) Flexfuel means the fuel injection can richen itself and send more in, because the engine would run lean at the same air/fuel misture as straight gas. And since a fossil fuel engine gives up unburned fuel as vapor to carry heat from the engine, the leaner mixture means overheating. As the radio show mentions, additives to balance this out are dangerous.

Even if there wasn't a problem with running lean, non flexfuel vehicles have multiple problems when there is too much alcohol in the gas, as when the average car gets E15. The EFI (Elecronic Fuel Injection) isn't going to like the electrically conductive alcohol. And there's materials in a regular engine, especially rubber and aluminum, which have trouble with alcohol. I think you need a special motor oil, too. Bascially to most cars alcohol in the gas endangers not just the engine, but it's an outright fire hazard. So you're talking about replacing almost every car in America to switch to even 85% alcohol.

HOWEVER, what intrigues me is experiments in running 30% water in alcohol, since the alcohol will cling to the water and stay mixed. A gallon of 70% alcohol/30% water will cost how much less than a gallon of 85% alcohol and 15% gas? You cannot mix water in the E85 because the alcohol will stick to it and separate to sit underneath the gas. Water vapor injection has long been known to help in gas engines, it's just not an easy thing to accomplish since gas weighs just over 6 pounds per gallon (Depending on variables, the official standard is 6.2 pounds) compared to water 8.35 pounds, so they won't mix. When the alcohol burns and the water carries the heat away from the exhaust as water vapor it might make it rain more here in California.

36. How can you expect an increase in power by adding water to diesel fuel?

Oh, what the hey, let's put some of this up too. Make your own fuel I think of the "Producer gas" of World War II where people were adding these things to their rationed gas. But the carburetors were easy to adjust back then, and the materials in cars harder to damage. Put the wrong thing in your gas just once today and it won't pass our California smog test again without swapping out sensors at $100-200 apiece.

WHo dares, WINS!!!!

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Consider. I heard this guy on the radio, he said we could elimnate all the oil drilling in the gulf just using up the current alcohol capacity available today. Very compelling.

There is nothing new about ethanol as a fuel source, but the concept of replacing oil with ethanol is logistically not possible.

The book was at the printer preparing to go to press, and the first airing of the television series in San Francisco was underway, to be followed by release to 140 PBS stations nationwide. Big Oil got wind of the project and convinced KQED to halt the printing and cancel the release of the series to the rest of PBS.
Although there were lawsuits, KQED's oil-funded lawyers crushed Blume, and the series ended up locked in KQED's vault, while the rights to the book went back to Blume. The book sat on the shelf for the past 20 years

Curious,I can find no reference to any injunctive proceedings that would prevent any publication of Bumes material. This is just a completely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. Why would "Big Oil' care about the airing of a well known, inefficient technology? "Big Oil" already manufactures and distributes ethanol additives in about 18 countries.

Alcohol Can Be A Gas! is a complete toolbox for farmers, green entrepreneurs, and activists to wrest control of our energy system from the Oligarchy and put it back in the hands of the public.

Apart from the fact that distilling alcohol, is a dangerous and unlawful activity, most small farmers would prefer to produce biodiesel. But the very few who actually go about this arduous task, are hardly likely to stop the drilling for oil! Nor is the publication of this book liable to "wrest control of our energy system from the Oligarchy and put it back in the hands of the public.

marcopolo

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Curious,I can find no reference to any injunctive proceedings that would prevent any publication of Bumes material.

What he says in the "About the Author" section in the front of the book is: "Shortly after the first show aired, in 1983, oil companies threatened to pull out their funding if the series was continued. KQED halted the distribution of the series and book." In the Introduction he gives more details. When KQED canceled the series he "invoked the Arbitration Clause" and there was a series of Discovery proceedings and Arbitration hearings but so far as I know Arbitration is handled outside the legal system that leaves records.

Apart from the fact that distilling alcohol, is a dangerous and unlawful activity

The book has a long disclaimer to that effect in the front. Well, except for the Unlawful part. The US has a very lenient permit system. Go to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and look for form# 5110.74. It's free for small operations of under 10,000 gallons per year and apparently a modest fee for larger operations. The book has information outlining how to fill out the form.

David Blume himself claims responsibility (in part) for ensuring that in the US it is so lenient. In the 1970's he ran an alcohol fuel educational organization, American Homegrown Fuel. I'm not seeing it in the introduction but when I saw him speak a couple years ago he described of having done some kind of lobbying with the government to get a streamlined permit process.

most small farmers would prefer to produce biodiesel.

Depends ... what's the market need? In the US there aren't many diesel vehicles. Why would farmers produce a fuel for a vehicle type which isn't widely used in the US? Also biodiesel production isn't exactly straightforward either.

are hardly likely to stop the drilling for oil

Yeah.. that's an interesting conundrum. The energy consumption levels in the US are so high that the amount of production facilities and infrastructure to replace the existing system is mindboggling. In my opinion one thing which is important is to also focus on efficiency measures so that the US decreases per-capita energy use while maintaining the same quality of living (do more with the same energy). That's the first step when a homeowner wants to put solar panels etc on their house, to go through house efficiency audits to plug up leaks in the house etc so that their house requires less energy to maintain the same level of warmth. It should therefore be the first step the country should do.

In any case David Blume doesn't seem to address this issue in his book. He has a chapter describing various policy changes the government could make to facilitate development of alcohol fuel production. But he focuses on small scale production and you're right it's hard to imagine how that would scale up to the large scale needs of the country.

One factoid about David Blume is he's a Permaculturist. As a Permaculturist he's probably accustomed to thinking on community scale operations. For example one of the chapters envisions "Community Supported Energy" operations similar to the Community Supported Agriculture operations some use to get food direct from producers. Haven't read the chapter but I imagine its - farmer(s) set up fuel production, distributing it direct to people through a CSE operation.

Last month when I was in Wisconson I did find a company selling ethanol fuel direct to the public. The company operates a production plant near Oshkosh Wisconson, buying corn direct from nearby farmers, and operates a chain of 20 directly owned stations in the area. I had a long talk with one of their field sales managers.

It seems like a model which could be replicated in other areas.

...compression ratios...

One of the factoids about alcohol as a fuel is it burns at a different temperature in the engine at a different compression ratio. (Alcohol= 1000F - Gasoline= 1400F) Supposedly in a properly converted engine these differences are accommodated and the vehicle gets as high a miles/gallon, while in an improperly converted engine it does not. The book has a lot of details about this.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

What he says in the "About the Author" section in the front of the book is: "Shortly after the first show aired, in 1983, oil companies threatened to pull out their funding if the series was continued. KQED halted the distribution of the series and book." In the Introduction he gives more details. When KQED canceled the series he "invoked the Arbitration Clause" and there was a series of Discovery proceedings and Arbitration hearings but so far as I know Arbitration is handled outside the legal system that leaves records.

KQED, denies any pressure by oil companies and cites plagiarism and inaccuracies, as the principal reasons to pull the series. This may be correct as by 1984, oil was not the hot topic it had been a few years earlier.

Depends ... what's the market need? In the US there aren't many diesel vehicles. Why would farmers produce a fuel for a vehicle type which isn't widely used in the US? Also biodiesel production isn't exactly straightforward either.

I agree, unlike Europe, most US cars and pick-up are petrol, but even in the US, heavy machinery (in cluding farm) is primarily diesel. Bio-diesel is easier and very popular with it's hobbyist fan club. Far more so than the tiny minority who might be tempted to convert to alcohol.Sales of modern turbo charged diesels has increased dramatically in the US in recent years.

are hardly likely to stop the drilling for oil

Yeah.. that's an interesting conundrum. The energy consumption levels in the US are so high that the amount of production facilities and infrastructure to replace the existing system is mind-boggling. In my opinion one thing which is important is to also focus on efficiency measures so that the US decreases per-capita energy use while maintaining the same quality of living (do more with the same energy). That's the first step when a homeowner wants to put solar panels etc on their house, to go through house efficiency audits to plug up leaks in the house etc so that their house requires less energy to maintain the same level of warmth. It should therefore be the first step the country should do.In any case David Blume doesn't seem to address this issue in his book. He has a chapter describing various policy changes the government could make to facilitate development of alcohol fuel production. But he focuses on small scale production and you're right it's hard to imagine how that would scale up to the large scale needs of the country.

One factoid about David Blume is he's a Horticulturist. As a permiculturist he's probably accustomed to thinking on community scale operations. For example one of the chapters envisions "Community Supported Energy" operations similar to the Community Supported Agriculture operations some use to get food direct from producers. Haven't read the chapter but I imagine its - farmer(s) set up fuel production, distributing it direct to people through a CSE operation. Last month when I was in Wisconson I did find a company selling ethanol fuel direct to the public. The company operates a production plant near Oshkosh Wisconson, buying corn direct from nearby farmers, and operates a chain of 20 directly owned stations in the area. I had a long talk with one of their field sales managers. It seems like a model which could be replicated in other areas.

Yeah well, we could all brew our own beer, Knit our own yogurt, grow our own do.., but we don't. The contention that a group of hobbyists, how ever well intentioned, can replicate large scale production with small cooperatives is farcical. You can't supply an industrial societies energy needs, on a supply subject to the vagaries of agriculture.

Australian ethanol production is a very good example. The State of Queensland in Australia is an old and well established major producer of Sugar. After years of low sugar prices, and a world glut, the government decided to subsidise the production of ethanol! After considerable time and taxpayer investment, the ethanol plants commenced operation. The weakness in this plan, became apparent when the following year Australia, and several other key sugar producers were hit with adverse weather conditions. Crops failed, sugar prices skyrocketed. The government had to import very expensive sugar to fulfil the ethanol contracts.

Ethanol, is increasingly irrelevant, considering the speed of development in EV technology.

marcopolo

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

The other thing to not forget in this interesting thread is that currently alcohol production probably consumes more energy from fossil fuels than it produces. (I say probably because there is some debate on the matter.) There is some interesting research into sustainable alcohol production, but none of it has reached commercial scale yet. The point is until we know where this sustainable alcohol is coming from in sufficient quantities talk of switching to it as a primary fuel source is premature.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Ethanol, is increasingly irrelevant, considering the speed of development in EV technology.

I happen to agree completely. Blume's book has a chapter on this and he comes down in favor of ethanol, of course.

In my mind there's a land use issue. Last year I heard Prof Mark Jacobson talk on this subject, he has a study adding up the energy requirements of different fuel sources to drive the US vehicle fleet. The land area required to grow ethanol enough to power that fleet is larger than the state of California. BUT if instead wind turbines and solar panels are deployed smartly (e.g. solar panels on the roofs of buildings) the land use requirements are a small fraction of that.

Today's EV's are probably not good enough to satisfy EVERYONE ... only good enough to satisfy 70% or whatever ... the energy density of batteries doesn't come anywhere near the energy density of liquid fuels ... but with the vast improvement we've seen in shift from lead acid to lithium, we can expect other battery chemistries to come along to make more improvements to EV's. In time EV's will become good enough to satisfy EVERYONE. Well, if continued attention is paid to improving them (R&D)

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

In some places, growing a mixture of crops will probably be very profitable for ethanol production.

It's all about symbiotic combinations of plants which are grown together in large areas, to allow harvesting by big machines.

Then the harvest is fed into ethanol production (avoiding the need for separating the individual plant products).

The (previous) buffalo feeding areas in the USA are a good example...but how do you simulate buffalo poop to close the loop and make it sustainable? Will adding legumes into the grassland mix be sufficient?

Overall, ethanol (and other renewable energy sources) are not going to replace the current energy demands of humanity - nothing is going to do this (except for solar)!

Ethanol production is one of many ways to harvest solar energy.

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The symbiosis doesn't have to be a combination of plants. It can be a combination of grazing techniques, plants, and intelligent management skills. I recently saw a movie about this: http://www.holisticmanagement.org/ ... it's a farming methodology that's supposed to reverse desertification and increase yield.

One claim they make is that farming practices originating in Western Europe were exported for use all over the world. They work in climates like Western Europe, but in "brittle" climates like we have in California and I believe y'all have in Australia, it doesn't work so well. "land managers manage the relationships between land, grazing animals, and water in ways that mimic nature" It's about using farming techniques appropriate to the land rather than imposing inappropriate techniques.

You asked ...

but how do you simulate buffalo poop to close the loop

That's simple. You graze buffalo on the land and they poop and close the loop themselves. It's, uh, a pretty, uh, natural process. The holistic management technique I referred to specifically has animals grazing on the land rather than protecting land from animal grazing. The combination is very natural, no need to artificially carry buffalo poop from place to place, the animals do it for you.

ethanol (and other renewable energy sources) are not going to replace the current energy demands of humanity - nothing is going to do this (except for solar)!

I rather think we'll all be better off with a diverse set of energy sources rather than being overly specialized in using one. In large degree this is the corner we've painted ourselves into by relying on fossil oil and fossil coal. If those two were part of a mix of fuel sources being used then there would be less cause for alarm. The reason for alarm in my mind is the time required to develop industrial scale of production of alternatives to fossil energy sources, and the slow pace at which this is currently being developed, and the delusional denial being practiced by the Drill Baby Drill crowd.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

The other thing to not forget in this interesting thread is that currently alcohol production probably consumes more energy from fossil fuels than it produces.

Yes, this is an interesting point. However, the Ethanol enthusiast would argue that since agriculture predates oil, and ethanol can replace oil.. etc ..

But your point is valid. Commercial production of Ethanol on a world scale is logistically impossible and undesirable. Increased use of water, and a vast array of other logistics, invalidate ethanol.

Sadly, when Lord Browne was CEO, BP was the world largest investor in alternate energy. Including research into de-desertification plants, like Jatropha, that had the potential to produce economically viable alternate fuels.BP, was also the world leading Solar company.

One claim they make is that farming practises originating in Western Europe were exported for use all over the world. They work in climates like Western Europe, but in "brittle" climates like we have in California and I believe y'all have in Australia, it doesn't work so well. "land managers manage the relationships between land, grazing animals, and water in ways that mimic nature" It's about using farming techniques appropriate to the land rather than imposing inappropriate techniques.

Although this is a very popular concept, (especially among non-farmers) and contain some valid aspects, it's not universally accurate. There is an increasingly idealistic concept about 'earth mother-nature'! An implication that there is a moral or ethical virtue to random evolution. This displays an increasing misunderstanding of evolution. Just because an environment evolved, it doesn't mean that everything should be preserved as part of a 'moralistic grand design'! Nor when humans adapt the environment to a more beneficial environment for humans, is this necessarily a bad or immoral concept. Much of Australia suffers from a lack of bio-diversity. The fairly isolated nature of the continent developed into todays harsh and brittle landscape, partly as a result of a lack of bio-diversity. Although some early European farming practises were unsuitable, later practises are successfully improving the land management and diversification will continue to improve the environment despite the misconceived protests from the purists.

I rather think we'll all be better off with a diverse set of energy sources rather than being overly specialised in using one. In large degree this is the corner we've painted ourselves into by relying on fossil oil and fossil coal. If those two were part of a mix of fuel sources being used then there would be less cause for alarm. The reason for alarm in my mind is the time required to develop industrial scale of production of alternatives to fossil energy sources, and the slow pace at which this is currently being developed, and the delusional denial being practised by the Drill Baby Drill crowd.

This all depends on the vantage point you are viewing the problem. In the US, and most wealthy western nations we can afford to be very 21st century about energy replacement. In the developing world, where the majority of people live, governments can not afford the luxury of huge surplus budgets. The energy needs of their people are immediate, and demand for economic progress is essential to maintain political stability. Wind farms,solar panels, ethanol/biodiesel etc.. are simply inadequate for the needs of a nation desperate to industrialise to remove the pressure of a subsistence based economy.

Any replacement of an energy system, must be equitable, and include all the regions of the planet. Advocating, idealistic but impractical solutions, is patronisingly annoying. The only viable mid-term solution is nuclear technology. Only nuclear technology has the capacity to produce sufficient surplus economic benefits to continue funding alternate energy R&D.

The Drill, baby, Drill, crowd you always refer to with such moral condemnation, are responding to a demand. No demand, no drill. No drill, no profits, no profits, no Tax, no tax, no R&D!

Without a really viable alternative that can actually be implemented, protests are as futile as the self-indulgent crowd of childish protesters blowing toy trumpets outside BP HQ in London. These protesters denigrate the efforts of brave men, risking their lives, to contain the Gulf oil spill, while achieving nothing.

marcopolo

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

...
...
Any replacement of an energy system, must be equitable, and include all the regions of the planet. Advocating, idealistic but impractical solutions, is patronisingly annoying. The only viable mid-term solution is nuclear technology. Only nuclear technology has the capacity to produce sufficient surplus economic benefits to continue funding alternate energy R&D.

What a load of hogwash!

When did you get on the nuclear bandwagon? You don't seem to understand it remotely...

Not worth the time to answer in any detail!

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marcopolo
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles
...
...
Any replacement of an energy system, must be equitable, and include all the regions of the planet. Advocating, idealistic but impractical solutions, is patronisingly annoying. The only viable mid-term solution is nuclear technology. Only nuclear technology has the capacity to produce sufficient surplus economic benefits to continue funding alternate energy R&D.

What a load of hogwash!When did you get on the nuclear bandwagon? You don't seem to understand it remotely...Not worth the time to answer in any detail!

Sorry Mik, I have always been an advocate for nuclear power. Not because it's inherently a great technology, but because it can be demonstrated to work within the current economic infrastructure. Coal supplies over 40% of the worlds power, no one has the time or ability to attempt implementation of some vague Utopian technology that involves restructuring the entire economic and political infrastructure of the planet. for this reason, Nuclear has been slowly gaining wider acceptance.

Sadly, opponents of nuclear technology usually resort to arrogant, contemptuous, and exceedingly hostile reactions.These reaction seldom contained a reasoned argument as to any practical alternate technology.

It must be difficult for those who confidently have supported strident and stentorian leaders decrying nuclear technology all these years. Only to discover people turning away from the old emotive arguments and crumbling logic, to embrace a nuclear future! Equally galling must be witnessing their leaders, including legendary icons of the anti-nuclear lobby, changing positions.

Well, thats what happens when you are too inflexible!

marcopolo

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

There are several major problems with Nuclear energy. Cost. It is prohibitively expensive. You could probably put a small wind turbine on top of every telephone pole in the country for less than the cost of one or two nuclear plants.

Another major problem is disposal of the waste. This has not been solved to the satisfaction of those who care about the safety of the planet in the future.

It takes massive amounts of cooling water... water that is dumped back into rivers with a lot more heat energy in it.... this kills the fish in the river.

There are other problems as well.... like the fact that it is hard to figure out the difference between a weapons function and an energy function. Iran claims an energy function, we assume otherwise.

After the massive oil spill in the gulf, how can anyone trust a large for-profit energy company? I don't. They said nothing like this could happen. Human greed, and human error are both significant risk factors. The risk of another Chernobyl is always there.

Back to the subject at hand, I found it very interesting that the Interstate 5 corridor from Canada to Oregon... the whole state of Washington is slated to get electric vehicle charging stations every 80 miles.

John www.ghiaspecialties.com

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles
...
...
Any replacement of an energy system, must be equitable, and include all the regions of the planet. Advocating, idealistic but impractical solutions, is patronisingly annoying. The only viable mid-term solution is nuclear technology. Only nuclear technology has the capacity to produce sufficient surplus economic benefits to continue funding alternate energy R&D.

What a load of hogwash!When did you get on the nuclear bandwagon? You don't seem to understand it remotely...Not worth the time to answer in any detail!

I use to be aganist Nuclear power. But with the new design, using pellet incased in glass, that can not exceed 1200 degrees. So no china sydrone. Also makes it easier to recycle nuclear waste.

ALso the answer to our energy needs is regional. Alcohol in the midwest, solar in west, and hydro in the north, aided by wind and nuclear.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

There are several major problems with Nuclear energy. Cost. It is prohibitively expensive. You could probably put a small wind turbine on top of every telephone pole in the country for less than the cost of one or two nuclear plants. Another major problem is disposal of the waste.
It takes massive amounts of cooling water... water that is dumped back into rivers with a lot more heat energy in it.... this kills the fish in the river. There are other problems as well.... like the fact that it is hard to figure out the difference between a weapons function and an energy function. Iran claims an energy function, we assume otherwise.After the massive oil spill in the gulf, how can anyone trust a large for-profit energy company? I don't. They said nothing like this could happen. Human greed, and human error are both significant risk factors. The risk of another Chernobyl is always there.

John, France produces 85% of it power from nuclear power, Switzerland more than 90%, and have done for over 40 years. Do you think the Swiss are a particularly dangerous or radical nation?

Your information is very out date.

Nuclear is no longer particularly expensive. There is a new generation of nuclear power plants that lack the capacity to develop weapons grade materials. Water, is no longer the problem it was in older plants. Water discharge can be completely pure and drinkable. Chernobyl was not the fault of technology but the political system that operated that particular technology. Nor are nuclear plants viable terrorist targets.

Nobody, not Exxon or BP guaranteed that drilling marginal oil is without risk. The responsibility for the disaster can be attributed to the government regulators. Every industry has risk a element.

But the world needs power, and as the age of oil comes to a close, the only viable substitute is electric power generation. Where is that base load power to come from?

You can moralise all you like about human greed, but the nations of the world need reliable power generation. The choice's are limited. Alternate energies like wind, Ethanol, biodiesel, solar, Geo-thermal, tidal, are all hopeful in potential, but to date still impractical and logistically unfeasible, so you are left with a choice4 of two devils, Coal or Nuclear. I prefer nuclear to coal.

Most of the worlds politicians don't have the time or luxury of endless debate. Increasing pressure for real solutions, will ensure that both Nuclear power and 'cleaner coal' technologies will be employed.

These technologies are not perfect, nor are they ideal. But there are no other realistic options. The PRC,India, Pakistan, Africa, Europe, Mexico, Russia etc.. are not going to starve for some idealist in California to organise his Utopian concepts.

Even in the USA, ask the people along the gulf shoreline whether they would rather have a small nuclear plant, or the offshore drilling industry! Oil drilling once brought great prosperity, today the exploitation of marginal oil is becoming too risky, yet demand remains high.

Nuclear, may not be a perfect or even long term solution, but it does guarantee sufficient economic security to fund R&D into more sustainable technologies.

The idea that surplus agricultural production can be relied upon to replace fossil fuel power generation and transport energy requirements is absurd. The simplest exercise in logistics would reveal the fallacy of the concept. Only those lacking any logistical knowledge of economics, energy requirements and agriculture would propose such delusional theories.

There is one theme common to all the opponents of nuclear and 'new coal technology'. They never propose a viable alternative. Well, not that can be substantiated on a large scale.

But, there's a challenge to anyone. Show a practical, reliable alternative, that can be implemented without major disruption? A realistic alternative that's capable of mass support? A practical alternative, without all the emotive hyperbole? Mik, anyone?? Nope.... I thought not.......!

marcopolo

Mik
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

...

Sorry Mik, I have always been an advocate for nuclear power. ...
...

Aha!

And how long have you been believing that a diet very rich in meat has no impact upon how much food is available for people?

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

marcopolo
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles
...

Sorry Mik, I have always been an advocate for nuclear power. ...
...

Aha! And how long have you been believing that a diet very rich in meat has no impact upon how much food is available for people?

The relevance escapes me! Or are you just adding to the general weirdness?

marcopolo

John Kelly
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Marcopolo wrote (snipped):

"Nuclear is no longer particularly expensive. There is a new generation of nuclear power plants that lack the capacity to develop weapons grade materials. Water, is no longer the problem it was in older plants. Water discharge can be completely pure and drinkable. Chernobyl was not the fault of technology but the political system that operated that particular technology. Nor are nuclear plants viable terrorist targets.

Nobody, not Exxon or BP guaranteed that drilling marginal oil is without risk. The responsibility for the disaster can be attributed to the government regulators. Every industry has risk a element.

But the world needs power, and as the age of oil comes to a close, the only viable substitute is electric power generation. Where is that base load power to come from?

You can moralise all you like about human greed, but the nations of the world need reliable power generation. The choice's are limited. Alternate energies like wind, Ethanol, biodiesel, solar, Geo-thermal, tidal, are all hopeful in potential, but to date still impractical and logistically unfeasible, so you are left with a choice4 of two devils, Coal or Nuclear. I prefer nuclear to coal."

In the first paragraph you say water is no longer a problem. This is false. It is not the quality of the water, but the temperature. A google search came up with this quote: "As of 2003 the Salem nuclear plant in New Jersey, kills more than 3 billion Delaware River fish each year, according to Martin Marietta, the plant's own consultant."

In the second paragraph you are also incorrect. BP did indeed claim that they could stop a blow out much larger than the one in the gulf without any problem. Numerous and obviously bogus claims were made about the safety of deep water drilling. Government "regulators" were indeed responsible, but not wholly responsible. The industries own internal documents are extremely damning on the subject. There has been a revolving door between the minerals management agency employees and the industry they are supposed to regulate. A putrid legacy of the last administration which was not paid sufficient attention to by the current administration even though they knew there were huge problems.

There is nothing impractical about wind and solar. Try subsidies of a mere fraction of the Trillion dollars a year that we give to coal and oil, and you will find these clean energies are very practical. If we stop subsidizing nuclear, coal, and oil, the true comparisons will become clear.

The number one thing that makes any energy policy practical is conservation. We waste huge amounts of energy with our antiquated electrical grid. We waste energy in our military, homes, businesses, and large impractical vehicles as if coal and oil will last forever. Oil is a precious. Future generations will need some for things other than burning and polluting.

John www.ghiaspecialties.com

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

In the first paragraph you say water is no longer a problem. This is false. It is not the quality of the water, but the temperature. A google search came up with this quote: "As of 2003 the Salem nuclear plant in New Jersey, kills more than 3 billion Delaware River fish each year, according to Martin Marietta, the plant's own consultant."

John, this is the problem with selective editing. The quote you cite actually reads: "Using antiquated technology, power plants often suck up the entire fresh water volume of large rivers, killing obscene numbers of fish. Just one facility, the Salem nuclear plant in New Jersey, kills more than 3 billion Delaware River fish each year, according to Martin Marietta, the plant’s own consultant."

In the correct context, the author is actually blaming the technology of a very old nuclear power plant. Modern nuclear plant design has eliminated this problem. He is also quoting a "Martin Marietta", who, in fact, claims to have been totally misrepresented by this author.

In the first instance this would be like condemning auto safety today, on the basis that car windscreens are were not laminated 60 years ago!

BP did indeed claim that they could stop a blow out much larger than the one in the gulf without any problem. Numerous and obviously bogus claims were made about the safety of deep water drilling. Government "regulators" were indeed responsible, but not wholly responsible.

This is also erroneous, BP owns the oil, not the rig. The arguments about rig design will rage on, and on, throughout endless inquiries and court cases. Anyone who believes that marginal oil drilling at unprecedented depth is without risk is delusional. We are living in a culture of blame and scapegoats, accompanied by gratuitous litigation. Very few human technologies are safe. The Titanic wasn't unsinkable! Space travel is risky, air travel is risky. Mining is risky, etc etc... no human endeavour is without risk.

I agree that the US regulators were amazingly lax, and probably corrupt. However, it was the Obama administration who re-activated marginal off shore oil drilling. This is the price for extracting the last oil.

There is nothing impractical about wind and solar. Try subsidies of a mere fraction of the Trillion dollars a year that we give to coal and oil, and you will find these clean energies are very practical. If we stop subsidising nuclear, coal, and oil, the true comparisons will become clear.

Nope, wrong again. The problem is with this kind of fuzzy thinking, is that Wind and solar technologies have inherent flaws that render them both inadequate to produce power for the industrial needs of the planet. Again, your reasoning is flawed by trying to extrapolate small scale selective results to a large scale general application.

The number one thing that makes any energy policy practical is conservation. We waste huge amounts of energy with our antiquated electrical grid. We waste energy in our military, homes, businesses, and large impractical vehicles as if coal and oil will last forever. Oil is a precious. Future generations will need some for things other than burning and polluting.

One this we both agree! Oil is far too precious to waste as fuel. But you propose solutions as a citizen of a wealthy first world nation. Only a very small minority of nations can afford to explore alternative energy. The majority of rich nations with first class infrastructure,have chosen Nuclear. Nuclear has the power to create the sort of economic surpluses to afford alternate R&D, while reducing dependence on oil and coal.

When you look at the size of the problem world wide, you start to comprehend the scale of the problem.

EV's will certainly replace ICE vehicles within 10 years in the West. The rest of the world will have a mixture of EV and diesel technology. Where will the power come from? Alcohol ? Wind ? Solar? Of these, Solar is the best hope, as small scale individual applications can be adapted for personal transport, and large scale applications can be improved and developed.

But study the logistic's of stopping both coal and oil as energy sources. Then you see impracticality of any energy resource to meet the of a rapidly industrialising world. Only modern nuclear power has the practical and political ability to provide sufficient production capacity to accomplish these objectives.

If we sit and do nothing, the majority of the world will continue to burn coal and oil. While we fiddle around arguing about impractical technologies that may under perfect conditions work, the rest of the world will continue to ignore us, and continue to burn coal and oil.

marcopolo

John Kelly
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

How does a modern nuclear plant cool their system if not with water? How do you dispose of the waste extremely long term? How much do we actually spend on nuclear when you add up all the costs? Where is your evidence of solar and wind not being adequate to fill a significant portion of our needs? We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to wind and solar. The investment is going to be costly, but not as costly as nuclear, and it can be done on anything from a small scale to a large scale without the dangers of nuclear power. As one small example, there is not a single wind turbine where I live. The wind blows almost constantly here on the Washington coast. As I mentioned before, you could put a small turbine on top of every telephone pole feeding energy back into the grid. Solar is terribly under utilized as well. Again...subsidize these technologies instead of the dirty, and dangerous ones. We could do this easily if we did not subsidize big oil, nuclear, and the war machine that is bankrupting our country. As for the snipped quote, I find reading more comprehensible with fewer large blocks of quoted text, and simply grabbed the first quote I could find on the subject. I'm sorry if you found it misleading. That was not my intention.

My claims about BP were certainly not erroneous. There is a great deal of reporting on this if you do a simple search. They did claim to be able to handle a spill much larger than this record sized gusher. Worker deaths, greed, human error, government malfeasance, false safety reports, false claims of the ease of an environmental cleanup, and much more. The industry has spent next to nothing on upgrading safety technology in the last 20 years, all the while drilling in deeper and deeper waters. This is how big business operates. It is cheaper to pay fines, buy politicians, ruin the environment, and kill your workers than it is to do the right thing. It is all about the profit. You see this in the coal industry as well. When companies spend more on advertising to convince us how green they are than they do on safety, we are all in trouble.

Emerging nations need us to be a leader in new small and large scale clean energy systems, not a pimp for the existing dirty fuel corporations. Nuclear would be fine if they can make it 100 per cent safe, and more affordable. Probably impossible. The risks are too great for anything less.

I'm glad we agree on conservation. It is the easiest way to make any energy system more viable for the future. Unfortunately we are stuck with a lot of selfish "pigs at the trough" who do not like being shown how much they waste. It is going to be very hard on our society the longer we wait to face reality.

John www.ghiaspecialties.com

MikeB
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Only modern nuclear power has the practical and political ability to provide sufficient production capacity to accomplish these objectives.

Marco, you need to do a little research into a technology called 'concentrated solar thermal with storage'. Essentially, you use a large array of mirrors to collect sunlight and direct the heat into a molten salt. That heat is then used to creates steam, which drives turbines to produce electricity. The brilliance of this system is that the hot salt can be stored long after the sun goes down, and thus produce electrical power all night long. This is a cheap and easy system for producing baseload electrical power, and it's approaching cost competitiveness with coal already (and far, far, far cheaper than nuclear). This technology easily beats the nuclear power that exists today, in virtually everything except scope of deployment.

Nuclear is ridiculously expensive, and not really any safer than oil. Companies are going to lie about the safety of nuclear power in exactly the same way they lied about the safety of deepwater drilling. Sure, there's new nuclear technology coming around, but it's exactly as unproven as the newest solar and wind technology. But the new nuclear technology requires tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees before it can be built, and the new solar and wind technology only requires a level playing field. The deployment of new solar and wind plants can be measured in months, while the construction of nuclear plants is still measured in decades.

I don't really object to further research in nuclear technology, but I strongly object to further tax dollars being spent to support it. If the market can make nuclear work, without government subsidies, without lies about safety, and without a massive lobbying effort to block reasonable regulation, then let it live.

Of course, fusion power would be an entirely different animal, that's potentially going to be the power source of the next century (22nd, that is). But it's 30 years from being available, and has been 30 years out for the last 50 years (at least).

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

...

The relevance escapes me! ...

I know!

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

marcopolo
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Re: On making oil irrelevant by switching to electric vehicles

Marco, you need to do a little research into a technology called 'concentrated solar thermal with storage'

Absolutely! CST shows great potential. Although on a large scale it is neither cheap nor without problems. I am involved in assisting the financing of CST project in Chile and have looked at ways to create small scale power production for small island nations. However like all new technologies, there are problems in practical application. Certainly not insurmountable, but time consuming.

There is no question that the development of CST, and similar, Solar technology is mankind's hope for future energy requirements.

Nuclear is ridiculously expensive, and not really any safer than oil. Companies are going to lie about the safety of nuclear power in exactly the same way they lied about the safety of deep water drilling. Sure, there's new nuclear technology coming around, but it's exactly as unproven as the newest solar and wind technology.

Nuclear is no expensive, but not ridiculously expensive. How much to clean up the environment from the burning of the last coal? My contention is not Nuclear to the exclusion of all other technology. However, it is a proven, reliable source of power, TODAY. Remember, there must be surplus profits from an uninterrupted industrial world to pay for all alternate R&D.

I have always suggested that all major energy resources should be monitored by an international regulatory body.

If I say to a developing, or even developed nation, "abandon oil and more importantly your abundant reserves of coal, for some idealistic wind farm", they will reply " what if a) there is no wind, B) all our wind comes in one month, at hurricane strength!". I can however say, " abandon Coal for proven Nuclear technology, subsidised by the west, that can provide you with your energy needs until alternates are productive."

I can say, 'look at Switzerland and Europe's impressive safety record."

I can't say, "produce alcohol, wind, solar, etc... and stop using coal." No one would accept that proposition because the technology is just not there yet, (in the case of some, never will be).These nations can't wait. Even the PRC, with major investments in alternate energy production, is still building 821 monster new coal fired power plants.

If the argument was should we develop nuclear or solar, the answer is solar. If the proposition is how to end coal consumption in the immediate future, the answer is Nuclear.

It's a question of priorities. How much do we want a coal free, GLOBAL future?

marcopolo

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