Archive for the ‘Oil Debate’ Category

Energy Independance

April 28, 2007

The solution to our fuel problem is to use many different kinds of fuels, not just bio-diesel or ethanol or hydrogen. Just like when cars first emerged, some ran on electricity, others on coal or steam, and of course eventually 99% ended up running on gasoline. The next generation of cars need to do the same, we really have to reinvent the automobile completely and have it run on many different fuel sources until one emerges as the best choice to power our cars with. The biggest problem with ethanol is that there aren’t enough ethanol stations. The technology is here and its affordable (and in fact many people own FlexFuel vehicles), but it hasn’t seen widespread usage yet because of a lack of places that sell ethanol. Why doesn’t ExxonMobil and Chevron and all the other oil giants, being the most profitable American companies with $40+ Billion in PROFITS take that money and invest it into converting the majority of its gas stations in places like California (where there is a huge demand for alternative fuels and a big tree-hugger green movement) and convert those gas stations into places that sell not only gasoline, but E10 (which all cars can run on), E85, E100, B100, diesel, and hydrogen (all at one station). Ethanol would see a surge in usage if that were to happen and, in a place like California where gas prices are higher than in other parts of the country, ethanol can still be competitively priced. Over time, with Cali being a 50+ million people state, more ethanol will be produced to meet demand and the price would go down.


Biofuel Station

Hydrogen Fuel Station

Next comes hydrogen: BMW has the right approach here by giving the Hydrogen 7 series’ to affluent people because hydrogen is still a costly technology. The rich should lead the way with using that technology and others like it and this will eventually bring prices down (just as they did with cars in the early 20th century when only the richest had the privilege of owning cars).

Hydrogen 7 Refueling

Hybrid cars like the ones Toyota is pushing aren’t a viable solution to our energy debacle. Those cars still use gasoline and, even though they use it in smaller amounts, hydrid cars are unappealing and they only increase mileage by a few MPG (take Saturn’s Aura GL or the Prius with its overstated MPG rating). More and more cars are on the road every year (especially in rapidly developing countries like China and India) which negates the effect of few more MPG offered by hybrids (I seriously doubt Chinese and Indians would pay $2,000-5,000 extra to have a hybrid. A little gas saved thanks to hybrids is irrelevant because while Americans are shelling out a few thousand more to get the hybrid version of a car, the regular old cars being sold in developing nations is exponentially increasing which out ways any kind of benefit we might receive by driving hybrids. When you think about that, you can see why hybrids won’t slow down the polution of our world (I am not sold on global warming, but we should all actknowlege that cars = burning fuels = polution), instead hybrids as I view them are an expensive temporary step in taking a stand against being dependant on oil…while still continuing to use it. Fully hybrid/electrical cars on the other hand are a slightly more viable solution. Again, instead of squeezing into those Toyota Prius appliences, celebrities and other afluent people can buy…a Tesla Roadster? Yup, fully electrical, yes it’s expensive, but no gas motor whatsoever unlike the Prius.


Tesla Roadster

If energy companies stepped up and provided the infastructure to power these alternative fuel cars in places like California, soon the trend would spill to other parts of the nation and the overall cost of alternative fuels would go down. And as we all know, when the cost of something important like fuel goes down, the demand goes up. If such a trend continues for a decade or two, we would achieve
energy independence.