Engineer Poet's X-thousand word look at energy independence, sustainability

To try and condense this lengthy article on energy independence and sustainability by the Engineer Poet would do it (and him) a disservice. The EP tackles issues of biofuels, PHEVs, hydrogen fuel cells, carbon sequestration, electricity from coal and lots more in a few thousand words, and deals with the political and scientific challenges needed for the U.S. to generate truly green energy for vehicles and home use. Instead of trying (and failing) to break the article down for you, I'll just offer some choice quotes:
  • "But most of us can't afford cars with $30,000 battery packs just to run on electrons. Fortunately, most driving is within a few tens of miles of home; some estimate that a car which can run its first 60 miles on electricity before switching on a conventional engine can eliminate 80% of liquid fuel demand."
  • "Transferring energy demand from gasoline to electricity might add as much as 800 billion kilowatt-hours per year to grid consumption. The US also uses about 43 billion gallons/year of diesel, supplying perhaps 1400 billion kWh of work to the wheels of vehicles from medium trucks to freight trains; supplying half of that via the grid would add another 700 billion kWH/year of load. The sum of these two is roughly equal to the estimate of the electric yield from the carbonization process. If half of the energy was supplied from electricity and the other half from biodiesel, it would take about 22 billion gallons of biodiesel. The biodiesel fraction could be largely supplied by step 3 above; a slight improvement in either biodiesel production or truck efficiency would make up the difference."
  • "Last is the effect of eliminating carbon emissions. The eliminated motor fuel contains about 660 million tons of carbon, and the eliminated coal contains roughly another 600 million. We'd replace that with perhaps a half-billion tons of carbon removals. If we subscribe to the Stern report's social cost of CO2 emissions at $85/ton, the net savings would be another $155 billion/year. It looks like we could lay out $370 billion plus maybe $50 billion/year, and save ourselves $287 billion a year in imported oil and natural gas, another $15 billion a year in coal costs, and perhaps $155 billion a year in social costs from climate change and its knock-on effects. Unless I've missed something very important, it's not a question of whether we can afford to do this. It's a question of whether we can afford not to."
As for analyzing the piece, I think the comments being left on the site are a better critique than I'm able to give. So this truly is one of those times where the best thing I can say is to just go check out the original. See ya when you get back.

[Source: Ergosphere, h/t to James of Alternative Energy Blog]

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